(December 26, 2021 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced on Sunday the approval of a 1 billion shekel ($317.3 million) program to develop and settle the Golan Heights.
Addressing the weekly Cabinet session, held in Kibbutz Mevo Hama in the southern Golan, Bennett said that the government’s goal was to double the Golan’s population, according to an official statement. The current population is approximately 50,000.
To achieve this goal, the government plans to build two new neighborhoods in Katzrin, the unofficial capital of the Golan, and also to establish two new communities, Asif and Matar.
Under the newly approved plan, more than 500 million shekels ($160 million) will go to planning and housing, 162 million shekels ($51 million) to regional development (e.g., tourism, industry and commerce) and 160 million shekels ($50 million) to improving quality of life, i.e., transportation and medical care, said Bennett.
The plan also calls for the Golan to become “the technological capital of renewable energy in Israel,” he said.
Bennett went on to state that there was a broad consensus in Israel regarding the Golan, with ministers “from right and left” supporting the plan.
“The Golan Heights are Israeli; this is self-evident. Israeli law has been applied to them since 1981 and they are beyond all debate,” he said. “The fact that the Trump administration recognized this, and the fact that the Biden administration has made it clear that there has been no change in this policy, are also important,” he added.
In a press release coinciding with the Cabinet meeting, the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry announced a plan to subsidize hotel construction in the Golan Heights and around the Sea of Galilee.
The ministry also said it would devote 4 million shekels ($1,270,000) to revitalizing buildings and infrastructure in Katzrin, and 3 million shekels ($950,000) to attracting new residents to the city.
The ministry’s head, Oded Forer, described the government’s program for the Golan as “revolutionary” and one which “will add a significant shot of encouragement to the ability of the Golan authorities to absorb new residents and continue to provide a quality of life to the existing residents.”
Jewish News Syndicate
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