Netanyahu

According to recent reports, Netanyahu is upset over indications that a negotiated deal on the Syrian civil war that is being worked on by world powers would declare the Golan Heights as Syrian territory.

Israel’s cabinet held its first-ever meeting in the Golan Heights on Sunday in honor of the 34th Government’s first year in office, during which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel will never withdraw from the area under any circumstances.

The event occurred amid reports that the region, which has been under Israeli control for the past 49 years, is being discussed as part of the Syrian civil war peace talks.

“The Golan Heights have been an integral part of the Land of Israel since ancient times; the dozens of ancient synagogues in the area around us attest to this,” Netanyahu stated. Israel’s historical roots on the Golan run back over three millennia.

He pointed out that “during the 19 years that the Golan Heights was under Syrian occupation, it was a place for bunkers, wire fences, mines, aggression and war. In the 49 years that the Golan Heights has been under Israeli rule, it has been for agriculture, tourism, economic initiatives, building and peace.”

Fighting at Syrian border

Fighting in Quneitra, near the Israeli border. (Flash90)

“In the stormy region around us, Israel is the stabilizing factor; Israel is the solution, not the problem,” Netanyahu clarified, saying that “many countries in the region have already recognized this and the trend of understanding and cooperation with them is strengthening,” possibly alluding the growing cooperation between Israel and other countries in the region.

Netanyahu said he chose to hold this festive Cabinet meeting on the Golan Heights “in order to deliver a clear message: The Golan Heights will forever remain in Israel’s hands. Israel will never come down from the Golan Heights.”

The population on the Golan Heights grows on an annual basis and today stands at approximately 50,000. “We will continue to strengthen the residents, the communities, the industry and the agriculture, however we can, including through the decisions that we will make at this meeting,” he vowed.

The Israeli premier shared that he spoke Saturday night with US Secretary of State John Kerry on the situation inside war-torn Syria and told him that he doubts that Syria will ever return to what it was

“I told the Secretary of State that we will not oppose a diplomatic solution in Syria, on condition that it does not come at the expense of the security of the State of Israel, meaning that at the end of the day, the forces of Iran, Hezbollah and Daesh [Arabic acronym for the Islamic State terror group] will be removed from Syrian soil,” he clarified.

The Golan Heights are crucial for Israel’s security on its northern border, and therefore “the time has come for the international community to recognize reality,” which is that the border itself “will not change,” and that after almost 50 years, “the Golan Heights will remain under Israel’s sovereignty permanently.”

According to recent reports, Netanyahu is upset over indications that a negotiated deal on the Syrian civil war that is being worked on by world powers would declare the Golan Heights as Syrian territory.

IDF Syrian border

Israeli soldiers of the Nahal infantry regiment take part in maneuvers in the Golan Heights. (Dan Bronfeld/IDF/Flash90)

Israel’s Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu will discuss the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their upcoming meeting this week.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu will “act to ensure” that any language declaring that the territory belongs to Syria, is unacceptable.

Israel gained control of the strategically important Golan Heights during the 1967 Six-Day War. After Israel briefly lost territory during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel and Syria established a United Nations-monitored cease-fire line in the region, with Israel taking the western two-thirds of the territory.

The Israeli Parliament voted to annex the Golan Heights in December 1981.

Amid the ongoing Syrian civil war, the territory continues to play a strategic role for Israel. Iran, Hezbollah, and ISIS all have a presence in Syrian territory near the Israeli border.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
JNS.org contributed to this report.

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Source: United with Israel