The cabinet has authorized a proposal to establish 750 farming estates in the disputed Golan Heights over the next five years, the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry announced.
“Residents of the Golan rely heavily on agriculture as a source of income, and this decision comes with the goal of expanding employment opportunities for them and creating anchors that will strengthen the communities on the Golan,” Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, who proposed the plan with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in a statement posted to his Facebook page.
The resolution calls for a NIS 375 million ($108 million) investment in training in the agricultural sector, water system upgrades, mine clearance and other necessary activities between 2014 and 2018, and tasks the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry with formulating a detailed plan for agricultural development in the Golan Heights within the allocated budget, Shamir said.
As part of the plan, 30,000 dunams (7,400 acres) of land will be converted for agricultural use near existing settlements, the Water Authority will formulate a framework for the development of a water system in the Golan in response to the needs that arise from the agricultural plan, and the Defense Ministry will work to clear minefields in the areas that will be developed as part of the plan.
The Golan Heights is Israel’s northernmost territory, captured from Syria during the Six Day War in 1967 and brought under Israeli law and administration with an annexation law in 1981. The international community has rejected the act and considers the Golan sovereign Syrian territory, and it has been part of peace negotiations between Israel and Syria on numerous occasions. Any peace deal that surrenders the Golan Heights is subject to a public referendum.