40 years since Israel declared Golan Heights sovereignty

Israel on Tuesday marked 40 years since Menachem Begin’s government officially established the Jewish state’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights territory that it conquered from Syria.

While Israel still holds claim to the northern region, much has changed in the area since then.

“Everything changed for the better. Israel has also changed since then. Roads, houses, towns, and villages… that’s progress,” Golan resident Ahmad Barkhat told i24NEWS.

The United States officially recognized Israeli jurisdiction over the Golan in 2019, while Syria’s claim on the area continues to weaken.

Yehuda Harel, a Golan resident, sat down with i24NEWS correspondent Pierre Klochendler in Kibbutz Merom Golan, the first among the 33 settlements that were established in the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War.

“Menachem Begin’s ideology was the Land of Israel as defined by the British Mandate. The Golan wasn’t part of it, it was our project,” Harel said.

“The law was important, but not as important as the creation of 33 communities.”

Harel was involved in campaigns that led to Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan – from the law of the region to the creation of settlements.

“It wasn’t supposed to change things, but to ensure things wouldn’t change for the worst.”

While the area is slowly evolving, with an average population growth of three percent, authorities are planning to bolster activity in the Golan.

Read More: i24 News