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.
Hundreds of Syrians have denounced the Israeli plan to double the number of settlements in the occupied Golan Heights.
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 settler community in the Golan, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s cabinet voted in favour 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 neighbourhoods in the town of Katzrin, as well as two new settler 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 (East Jerusalem), and the Gaza Strip.
Israel intends to double the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied Golan Heights despite normalisation deals, which oblige the regime to freeze its land expropriation and settlement expansion plans.
Tel Aviv unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 in a move not recognised 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.
- Iran’s permanent ambassador to the United Nations (UN) says the Security Council must fulfil its responsibility and compel the Israeli regime to put an immediate end to its occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights and its acts of aggression against the country.
‘Aggressions and destabilising measures of the Israeli regime constitute flagrant violations of international law and continue to threaten regional and international peace and security,’ Majid Takht-Ravanchi said in an address to a UNSC session on Syria yesterday.
Israel frequently launches missile attacks and targets military positions inside Syria, especially those of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, which has played a key role in helping the Syrian army in its fight against foreign-backed terrorists.
Israel has been a key supporter of terrorist groups that have been fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad since the foreign-backed militancy erupted in Syria over 10 years ago.
The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.
Israel has also occupied large swathes of land known as the Golan Heights in southwestern Syria since 1967, maintaining a significant military presence in the Arab country’s territory. Syria has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over Golan, saying the territory must be completely restored to its control.
Takht-Ravanchi hailed efforts by the UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen to hold a sixth meeting of the country’s Constitutional Committee, saying its work must be complemented by other efforts, including by putting an end to the foreign occupation of Syria without any precondition or further delay.
‘We emphasise again that the Committee must continue its work without any external interference or pressure. Setting any artificial deadline for its conclusion or any other conditions of such nature will negatively impact the Committee’s work and must therefore be avoided,’ the top Iranian diplomat added.
It must be ensured that this will be a truly Syrian-led political process that belongs to Syria and is being facilitated by the United Nations, he noted.
Takht-Ravanchi slammed the assassination of former Syrian lawmaker Midhat Saleh al-Saleh by Israeli snipers in the occupied Golan Heights earlier this month as one of the Zionist regime’s latest ‘adventuristic practices.’
‘We condemn, in the strongest terms, this criminal act as well as all violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria by the Israeli regime, and reaffirm Syria’s inherent right to self-defence and to respond at a time and place of its choosing,’ the senior Iranian diplomat added.
A senior Syrian official has censured the Israeli assassination of former Syrian lawmaker Midhat Saleh al-Saleh in the occupied Golan Heights as a cowardly act.
Saleh, who had been imprisoned in Israel for 12 years, was killed by gunfire while returning home in the Syrian village of Ain al-Tinah opposite the Israeli-occupied town of Majdal Shams in Golan on October 16.
Takht-Ravanchi also condemned the terrorist attack in the Syrian capital of Damascus on October 20, saying such acts underscore the need to continue the fight against all terrorist groups unabated.
Two bombs attached to an army bus went off in Damascus, leaving at least 14 people dead and several others injured.
Syria says the cowardly terrorist attack against a military bus in Damascus will not prevent it from fighting terrorism and restoring security and stability to the country.
The official said Iran rejected any ‘separatist activities and illegitimate self-rule initiatives’ in Syria as well as any efforts to support them.
He voiced concerns over the grim humanitarian situation in Syria, calling for more efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the Syrian people in need, including pursuing a non-political approach to the dispatch of humanitarian aid and supporting the war-ravaged country’s reconstruction.
He called for the lifting of ‘unlawful and inhumane’ sanctions unilaterally imposed against Syria, which are used to collectively punish a whole nation.
Takht-Ravanchi warned that sanctions would not only increase the suffering of the Syrian people, but would adversely affect the activities of the UN and international and national humanitarian organisations in the Arab country.
He called for the allocation of more aid to Syria and for steps to be taken to ensure that the aid does not fall into the hands of terrorist groups.
Takht-Ravanchi once again reiterated Iran’s principled stance that the Syrian crisis should be solved through peaceful channels and in accordance with international law, particularly respect for the countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in their internal and external affairs.