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Israel's Bennett: Recognise Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights

Leader of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett says world must recognise Israel's rule over the Golan Heights
Israeli soldiers take part in a military training exercise in the occupied Golan Heights near the border with Syria on 19 January 2015 (AFP)

Right-wing Israeli politician and Minister of Education Naftali Bennett called on the international community to recognise Israel’s authority over the annexed Golan Heights.

Speaking on Sunday at the Herzliya Conference, an annual Israeli policy forum, Bennett expressed his frustration with the world’s lack of recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israel.

“What is the logic? Where is the morality?” he asked. “To whom would they like us to give the Golan, to Assad?” he said referring to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

“Why up until now have they not recognised the Golan?” Bennett persisted. “What is the reason?”

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War, along with the West Bank and Gaza strip. In 1981, Israel officially annexed the Golan, in a move that was never recognised by the international community.

Bennett strongly opposes the formation of a Palestinian state and has previously proposed annexing Area C of the West Bank, which counts for 60 percent of the territory, to Israel. He went on to say that Israeli opposition leaders in government, Isaac Herzog and Yair Lapid, should rally and support his Golan-recognition project.

Commenting on the Islamic State over the border in Syria, he proposed the initiative of world recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israel’s territory at the conference.

“Borders are changing daily,” Bennet said. “Syria, as a state, no longer exists. So this is the time for initiative.”

“I call on the international community: recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” he said. “You can choose: it’s either Israel or the Islamic state. It’s either a democracy that elects its heads, or a barbaric organisation that cuts off heads.”

“Because in the Golan there’s no such thing as occupation,” he continued. “In the Golan, no one claims human rights abuses, at least not on our side.”

Bennett, head of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party, also complained about the small population of Israeli Jews in the Golan Heights, which is around 23,000- the same number as the Druze population there. He called on the Israeli state to quadruple the Jewish settlement population in the Golan to 100,000 within five years. 

The international community regards all Israeli construction on land seized during the 1967 war as illegal.

The European Union in 2013 issued guidelines banning European institutions from dealing with Israeli entities operating in settlements.

"The EU does not recognise Israel's sovereignty over any of the territories referred to... and does not consider them to be part of Israel's territory, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law."

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