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Syria strongly condemns Israel's plan to double settler population in occupied Golan Heights

This file picture shows a view of the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates building in Damascus, Syria. (Photo by SANA)

Syria has strongly condemned the controversial Israeli plan to double the settler population in the Golan Heights, warning against the "unprecedented and dangerous" uptick in the Tel Aviv regime’s land expropriation and settlement expansion activities in the strategic area.

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in a statement released on Monday, said the occupied Golan is an integral part of Syrian territories under the international law, and that Damascus is determined to recover the area “through all available means”.

“The Syrian government reaffirms its complete and strong support for the entire Syrian nation, including local residents of the occupied Golan Heights who are steadfast in their resistance against the Israeli occupation and resoundingly reject the annexation of the Syrian territory as well as Israeli authorities’ land grab policies,” the statement noted.

The Syrian foreign ministry highlighted that the major Israeli plan is in contravention of international principles, namely the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the UN Security Council Resolution 497 of 1981, which consider Israel’s decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan null and void with no legal effect.

The statement went on to say that Damascus calls on the Security Council to urgently assume its responsibilities within the framework of UN Charter, stop the Israeli regime from continuing its violations, put an end to the occupation of Syrian Golan Heights, and force Israel into withdrawal from the occupied territory in accordance with the border lines of June 4, 1967.

During a meeting held on Sunday at the Mevo Hama community in the Golan, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's cabinet voted in favor of the plan to double settler population in the region. The plan aims to build 7,300 settler homes in the area over a five-year period.

It calls for one billion Israeli shekels ($317 million) to be spent on settler units, infrastructure and other projects with the goal of attracting roughly 23,000 new Jewish settlers to the area, which Israel captured from Syria more than 50 years ago.

“This is our moment. This is the moment of the Golan Heights,” Bennett told ministers. “After long and static years in terms of the scope of settlement, our goal today is to double settlement in the Golan Heights.”

During the cabinet meeting, the right-wing Israeli prime minister announced two new neighborhoods in the town of Katzrin, as well as two new communities to be named Asif and Matar, each with about 2,000 housing units.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the closing stages of its 1967 Six-Day War on Arab countries, which also saw the regime occupy the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds, and the Gaza Strip.

Tel Aviv unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 in a move not recognized by the international community.

Syria has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying the territory must be completely restored to its control.

Almost 22,000 Syrian Druze live concentrated in four main Israeli-occupied villages of Majdal Shams, Buqata, Masada and Ein Qiniyye, and are facing numerous Israeli settlement projects, including building wind turbines on their farming lands.

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