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Syria: Golan Heights will never be returned to Syria: Netanyahu

18th Apr 2016
Syria: Golan Heights will never be returned to Syria: Netanyahu

By Kaamil Ahmed

 

JERUSALEM (AA) – The occupied Golan Heights will never be returned to Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Sunday.

At the first-ever official Israeli meeting held within the occupied region itself, Netanyahu described the Golan Heights as an “integral” part of Israel and challenged the notion that Israel had “occupied” them in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

“I chose to hold this festive Cabinet meeting on the Golan Heights in order to deliver a clear message: The Golan Heights will forever remain in Israel’s hands,” he said at the meeting.

“Israel will never come down from the Golan Heights,” he added, noting that in coming years thousands of Israeli families would join the more than 20,000 settlers currently living in the region.

“During the 19 years that the Golan Heights were under Syrian occupation, they were a place for bunkers, wire fences, mines and aggression,” Netanyahu asserted.

“In the 49 years that the Golan Heights have been under Israeli rule, they have been for agriculture, tourism, economic initiatives and building,” he added.

He also voiced doubt that neighboring Syria would remain a single, unified state following more than five years of civil war that has aggravated the country’s political, religious and ethnic fissures.

The Syrian Golan Heights — which remains inhabited by a small Syrian Druze community of roughly 20,000 — was occupied during the 1967 conflict and formally annexed by Israel in 1981 in a move that was never recognized internationally.

Following the war, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 242, which calls for Israel’s withdrawal from territories conquered in 1967, including the Golan Heights.

[Photo: Syrian Golan Heights occupied by Israel.  Photographer: Dr. Avishai Teicher/Creative Commons]

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