On Dec. 14, 1981, the government of Menachem Begin applied Israeli sovereignty to the Golan Heights, in the face of harsh criticism at home and abroad. What Begin declared 40 years ago, we are continuing today.
Today, we are strengthening the Golan Heights and helping it grow. The billion-shekel plan for the Golan, which the government under my leadership will approve this week, is one of the Israeli government’s flagship plans for this term.
Hundreds of millions will be invested in infrastructure, schools, roads, job opportunities, high-tech and green energy—and the list goes on. We are shining a spotlight on the Golan and saying clearly, we are with the Golan, and we are on the Golan.
The Golan Heights are more than a strategic asset of importance to diplomacy and defense. It’s also a home, it shapes the landscape of our homeland.
My special love for the Golan Heights goes back to my childhood, to hikes on the Golan Heights trails and in its green fields, and later as an IDF combat soldier and commander on navigation drills that lasted hours. Like many in Israel, the landscapes of the Golan—the sight of the basalt and the wide spaces that overlook the Sea of Galilee on one side and Mount Hermon on the other—hold a special place in my heart.
The decision the government is poised to make is not merely a pragmatic one. It will also be an important declaration. The Golan Heights is no longer disputed. There is consensus in Israel, on the right and the left, which our government represents better than anything, that the Golan is ours.
The ministers in the most heterogeneous government in the history of Israel agree that there is a need to invest in and develop the Golan Heights, and that it belongs to Israel and the Israeli people. This is a statement of unparalleled importance, one that carries on Begin’s legacy and commemorates his courageous decision.
I see settling the Golan as a matter of national importance, and a top priority for Zionism. Therefore, we are establishing two new communities—Assif and Matar—and intend to double the number of residents on the Golan Heights, making it a vibrant and flourishing region that will attract young couples who want to make a home and raise a family there.
I recommend that Israelis who are sick of traffic jams come and live well, and do good. Come to the Golan.
Naftali Bennett is the prime minister of Israel.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.