Israel aims to double Golan Heights population in 3 years

Golan Heights Photo: Shutterstock

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel says the plan will bring "devastation and destruction" to the region.

Israel's cabinet is meeting today at Kibbutz Mevo Hama on the Golan Heights to approve a plan 'to encourage demographic growth in the settlements of the Golan Region Council and Katzrin between 2022 and 2025." The ambitious target of the plan is to double the population of the Golan heights by 2025.

There are currently 53,000 people living on the Golan heights - 27,000 Jews, 24,000 Druze and 2,000 Alawites.

The starting point for the plan is that the Golan Heights is one of the most sparsely populated areas of Israel.

Under the plan two new towns of 2,000 families each provisionally called Assif and Matar will be built south of Sha'al and east of Yonatan. The ministry of Construction and Housing will allocate NIS 40 million for planning new homes and a further NIS 35 million for renovating public buildings, while the Ministry of Agriculture will allocate NIS 35 million for upgrading infrastructures. The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption will allocate NIS 4 million for community development and empowerment.

New housing that will be marketed will be subsidized by the government with NIS 4.5 million allocated for branding and advertising of the homes that will be built.

Major resources will be allocated for infrastructures throughout the Golan Heights including NIS 75 million for a new sewage system. NIS 77 million will be allocated for infrastructures in Katzrin including vacating the city's market and soccer pitch as well as a NIS 40 million development grant.

Other grants will include NIS 27 million to the Ministry of Defense for clearing minefields and NIS 17.8 million from the Ministry of Tourism for developing the region's tourism infrastructure as well as NIS 30 million for building guest houses and NIS 32 million for developing heritage sites and nature reserves.

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), which opposes the government plan, said, "The government decision offers the Golan Heights mainly devastation and destruction to both nature as well as unique open spaces in this part of the country. The Golan Heights, which has dramatic panoramas, flowing rivers and extensive open spaces, is home to biblical vultures, gazelles, wolves and hundreds of types of wild animals and plants which attract a millions of visits each year by Israelis. All this will be damaged significantly and critically for the sake of a few settlements and infrastructure and energy ventures."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 26, 2021.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2021.

Golan Heights Photo: Shutterstock
Golan Heights Photo: Shutterstock
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