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Israel won't return Golan Heights to Syria, Netanyahu says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) poses for a photo with his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull during the signing of agreements at the Commonwealth Parliament Offices in Sydney, Australia, on February 23, 2017. (Photos by AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Tel Aviv regime will never end its decades-long occupation of Syria's Golan Heights.

“I want all of you to come to Israel…. I want you to walk the streets of the Old City in Jerusalem (al-Quds), hike in the Golan Heights. By the way, the Golan will never go back to Syria. It will always be a part of Israel,” Netanyahu said during a meeting with his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney on Thursday.

The remarks came on the same day that about 1,000 protesters gathered at Sydney's Town Hall, to express their outrage at the Australian government's warm reception of the Israeli prime minister.

"He's responsible for settlement expansion which is illegal under international law, he's responsible for a lot of the wars that have been committed against the Palestinians in Gaza, and really this man should be tried in the ICC (International Criminal Court), not welcomed down in Sydney," protester Mona Abuzalaf said.

Pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrate against the visit to Australia by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Sydney on February 23, 2017.

Another protester, Randa Abdel-Fattah, wanted to remind Netanyahu that Palestinians had supporters.

"We will not give up. We are a resilient people and our resistance will continue until we are given restitution and our human rights," she said.

Last November, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, which it has occupied since 1967.

The resolution also condemned Israel’s non-compliance with Security Council Resolution 497 since 1981, describing as null and void Tel Aviv’s decision issued on December 14, 1981 to impose its control over the occupied Golan Heights.

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Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community. The regime has built tens of illegal settlements in the area ever since and has used the region to carry out a number of military operations against the Syrian government.

This file picture shows an Israeli Merkava main battle tank (front) in the occupied Golan Heights.

Syria says Israel and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri militant groups operating inside the Arab country since 2011. The Israeli regime has even set up field hospitals there to treat wounded Syrian militants.

The Syrian army has repeatedly seized huge quantities of Israeli-made weapons and advanced military equipment from the foreign-backed militants inside Syria.

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