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Israel Land Authority plans two new settlements in occupied Golan

The plan aims to triple the current settler population in the occupied Golan Heights.

Jerusalem24 – The Israeli National Council for Planning and Construction will present to the government a plan to establish two new settlements in the occupied Golan Heights, the Israel Land Authority announced yesterday.

The Golan Regional Council has been working with the Israel Land Authority on ways to increase demographic growth, setting itself a target population of 60,000 Jewish Israeli settlers – three times the current number.

To accommodate this increase, the Land Authority says existing settlements must be developed alongside the creation of the two new settlements.

These plans fall in line with Government Resolution 864, adopted on 26 December 2021, which encourages settlement and demographic growth in the occupied Golan. According to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab and Minority Rights in Israel, the plan will require a budget of around NIS 1 billion.

The Syrian Golan Heights have been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967.

Around 90,000 Syrians lived in the Golan Heights prior to June 1967. Within two months of the war and subsequent occupation, 6,396 remained – the vast majority Syrian Druze.

There are currently around 25,000 Jewish Israeli settlers living in 35 settlements in the Golan, and just under 30,000 Syrian Druze.

95% of the land in the occupied Golan Heights currently falls within the jurisdiction allocated to Jewish Israeli settlements, despite settlers constituting less than 50% of the population. The Syrian Druze community, confined to the remaining 5% of the region, has suffered from land shortages and a developmental crisis.

One of the two new settlements, Orcha, will be located in the southeastern Golan Heights about 5km north of Ramat Magshimim. The second settlement, Matar Yakom, will be situated in the northern Golan Heights in proximity to the settlement of Sha’al.

A.G. Eizen Architects and Urban Builders Ltd, a Haifa-based firm, will oversee the planning.

Yaakov Quint, director of the Israel Land Authority, said the new settlements “will give the Golan Heights a significant boost and bring families and young people to the area,” as well as “help reduce the gaps between the center and the periphery.”

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