Iran aspires to build an army on Israel’s Golan Heights border, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday as he doubled down on Israeli sovereignty in that region and warned Tehran against continued entrenchment there.
“The Golan Heights is Israel, period,” Bennett said as he addressed the Makor Rishon newspaper conference that focused on economic and regional development of the mountainous region that the Jewish state captured from Syria during the 1967 war.
Israel applied sovereignty to the Golan, but that move has been recognized only by the United States. Jerusalem has long claimed that the region is a strategic necessity, particularly in light of the Syrian civil war and as one of the fronts in Iran’s continuous military battle with Israel.
“Iran, which has dispatched proxies and built armies to surround the State of Israel, aspires to build yet another army on the border of the Golan Heights,” Bennett said as he stood in the Golan.
“We will continue to act wherever and whenever necessary, at our initiative, and on a daily basis, in order to roll up the Iranian presence in Syria. They have nothing to look for there,” Bennett said.
But he clarified that Israel’s ties to the Golan were not dependent on the argument that it was territory necessary for Israel’s security.
“I would like to make one thing clear – our position regarding the Golan Heights is not connected to the situation in Syria,” Bennett said.
The “horrors taking place in Syria may make it seem as if it would be preferable for the Golan to prosper under Israeli hands” than to be “yet another arena for killings and bombings,” he said.
“But even in the situation – which could happen – in which the world changes direction regarding Syria, or regarding the [Bashar] Assad regime, this has no connection to the Golan Heights” and Israeli sovereignty there.
Golan Heights development is a strategic goal for this government, Bennett said, as he promised to double, if not quadruple the population there.
In six weeks, the government will approve a national plan for the Golan Heights that will include the creation of two new communities and investment in development, infrastructure, business and renewable energy, Bennett said.
“We are now working to complete the plan that will change the face of the Golan Heights."