Bennett Announces New Development For Golan Heights
(December 28, 2021)
Excerpts of Prime Minister Naftali Bennet’s speech announcing plans to double the population of the Golan Heights and invest in its development.
Friends, this is our moment; this is the moment for the Golan Heights. A combination of circumstances has led us today to a dramatic government decision to channel considerable resources, around NIS 1 billion, to strengthening communities on the Golan Heights.
First, it must be said, the Golan Heights are Israeli; this is self-evident. Israeli law has been applied to them since 1981 and they are beyond all debate.
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. After around ten years of terible civil war in Syria, every knowledgeable person in the world understands that it is preferable to have Israeli heights that are quiet, flourishing, and green as opposed to the alternative.
Moreover, in the past two years, many Israelis have discovered that it is possible to work from home and that it is not necessary to live in the center of the country. In this context, the Golan Heights can be a wonderful option for whoever wants clean air, space, and quality of life. Several minutes ago, I saw children in the kindergarten here and there is what to be envious about.
Here is where our government comes into the picture. The plan that we will approve today marks 40 years since the law was applied and – truth be told – is years overdue. For many years, the scope of community life has stagnated. We have a major gap to close and we are starting to do so today.
I would like to be clear: After many static years regarding the scope of community life, our goal today is to double the population of the Golan Heights. To this end, we will strengthen the city of Katzrin with two new neighborhoods, the 12 and 13 quarters.
To this end, we will establish two new communities on the Golan Heights – Asif and Matar. We are increasing community life here.
For this, we are allocating considerable resources and I would like to thank all of the government ministries. Approximately NIS 1 billion will turn the Heights into a place that is good to live in.
Of this money, more than NIS 500 million is for planning and housing. NIS 162 million is for regional development – tourism, industry, commerce, everything that creates good jobs here. Another NIS 160 million will be for improving the quality of life – transportation, medical care and other aspects of life.
The Golan Heights will be very green in one sense and, in effect, will become the technological capital of renewable energy in Israel. I would like to thank the Energy Minister in this context.
I would also like to say something that is very important to me personally and I think also contributes to the resilience of the State of Israel.
The fact that the ministers of the government are here, from the right and left, sitting together here, is very impressive. It is not a given.
Our government, by its very establishment, allows us to find the Israeli national consensus anew. After many years in which we constantly focused on what divides us, we are trying to emphasize here what unites us.
The Golan Heights, the need to strengthen, cultivate and live in it, is certainly a principle that unites everyone here.
And to the Israelis who are looking for a place to build their home, I say – the Heights are waiting for you; come to the Golan.
Source: Yochanan Visser, “Why Development of the Golan Heights is Good for Israel,” Israel Today, (December 29, 2021).