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April 16, 2016 10:27 am

Israeli Cabinet to Hold First-Ever Meeting In Golan Heights to Affirm Sovereignty

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The Golan Heights. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Golan Heights. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – The Israeli cabinet is set to hold its first-ever meeting in the Golan Heights amid reports that the territory is being discussed as part of Syrian civil war peace talks.

Israel’s Channel 2 reported Friday that Israel’s cabinet will hold its weekly meeting in the Golan Heights on Sunday to “symbolize” Israel’s sovereignty in the area. According to recent reports, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin 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 Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu had phoned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over the issue, and that he will also discuss the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their upcoming meeting. 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. Amid the ongoing Syrian civil war, the territory continues to play a strategic role for Israel. Iran, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State terror group all have a presence in Syrian territory near the Israeli border.

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  • In the 15th and 16th centuries, Druze began to settle in the northern Golan and on the slopes of Mt. Hermon. During the brief period of Egyptian rule (1831-1840) and in the ensuing decades, Sudanese, Algerians, Turkomans and Samarian Arabs settled on the Heights. The Turks brought in Circassians in the 1880’s to fight against Bedouin brigands.

    The Jewish presence on the Golan was renewed in 1886, when the B’nei Yehuda society of Safed purchased a plot of land four kilometers north of the present-day religious moshav of Keshet, but the community — named Ramataniya — failed one year later. In 1887, the society purchased lands between the modern-day B’nei Yehuda and Kibbutz Ein Gev. This community survived until 1920, when two of its last members were murdered in the anti-Jewish riots which erupted in the spring of that year. In 1891, Baron Rothschild purchased approximately 18,000 acres of land about 15 km. east of

    Ramat Hamagshimim, in what is now Syria. First Aliyah (1881-1903) immigrants established five small communities on this land, but were forced to leave by the Turks in 1898. The lands were farmed until 1947 by the Palestine Colonization Association and the Israel Colonization Association, when they were seized by the Syrian army. Most of the Golan Heights were included within Mandatory Palestine when the Mandate was formally granted in 1922, but Britain ceded the area to France in the Franco-British Agreement of 7 March 1923. The Heights became part of Syria upon the termination of the French mandate in 1944.

  • Joseph Sompolinsky

    When Syria recklessly used the Golan Heights to launch attacks on Israelis, they lost any claim to it!

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    The Golan Heights must remain underIsraeli sovereignty for the sake of security. Israel has the right to defend the borders it has fought for and the territory it has annexed in order to maintain defensible borders.