Israel approves 2 new settlements in Golan Heights

Jerusalem: Israel announced on Sunday a multi-million-dollar plan to develop the Golan Heights, including the establishment of two new settlements.

In a special cabinet meeting held in the Golan, the ministers approved a plan to strengthen the Israeli settlements in the originally-Syrian territory, according to a statement issued by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office.

Under the plan, two new settlements, Asif and Matar, will be established, each with about 2,000 new housing units, Xinhua news agency reported.

The ministers also decided to allocate 576 million shekels (about $183 million) to build 7,300 new housing units over the next five years in the town of Katzrin and the Golan Regional Council, according to the office.

The goal of the investment is to double the number of residents in Katzrin, and “significantly increase” the number of residents in the small communities of the Golan Regional Council, it added.

Some 322 million shekels will be invested in improving transportation, education, health and other infrastructures, in addition to developing tourism, research and development centers, and small businesses.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in the 1980s, but the international community has never recognized the move.

Former US President Donald Trump announced in March 2019 that he recognizes Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

On Nov 5, 2020, the UN General Assembly confirmed Syria’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights occupied by Israel since the battle in June 1967.

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