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Israel approves plan to double population of Golan Heights

Israel approves plan to double population of Golan Heights
Israel on Sunday approved a plan to expand and double the population of the Golan Heights territory by the end of the decade. Pool Photo by Nir Elias/EPA-EFE

Dec. 26 (UPI) -- The Israeli government on Sunday approved a plan to develop the Golan Heights and double the population of the territory.

The $317 million plan seeks to construct thousands of new housing units, develop transportation infrastructure, upgrade medical and education systems and double the population in the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War, by the end of the decade.

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"Our goal is to double the settlement in the Golan Heights. The need to strengthen, nurture and reconcile the place is common to us all," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at a cabinet meeting Sunday.

Under the plan, which Bennett announced in October, Israel plans to create two new communities in the territory and build more than 11,000 new housing units between the new communities and existing communities.

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It also sets aside funds for the promotion of new hotels and plans to create 2,000 new jobs in the area.

Israel has occupied the area for more than 50 years, annexing the area when many in the international community believe Israelis should leave.

Bennett on Sunday declared that the Golan Heights are Israeli "is self-evident."

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"After around 10 years of terrible civil war in Syria, every knowledgable person in the world understands that it is preferable to have Israeli heights that are quiet, flourishing and green as opposed to the alternative," he said.

He cited a decision by the Trump administration to recognize the Golan Heights "Israeli-controlled" instead of the past designation "Israeli-occupied," becoming the first nation to do so.

The Biden administration he added, "has made it clear that there has been no change in this policy."

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