Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Sunday, 17 April 2016), made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, which was held on the Golan Heights in honor of the 34th Government's first year in office:
"We are here, on the Golan Heights. This is the first time that the Government of Israel has held an official meeting on the Golan Heights in the 49 years that they have been under Israeli rule. The Golan Heights have been an integral part of the Land of Israel since ancient times; the dozens of ancient synagogues in the area around us attest to this. The Golan Heights are an integral part of the State of Israel in the new era. During the 19 years that the Golan Heights were under Syrian occupation, when they were a place for bunkers, wire fences, mines and aggression, they were for war. In the 49 years that the Golan Heights have been under Israeli rule, they have been for agriculture, tourism, economic initiatives and building. They are for peace. In the stormy region around us, Israel is the stabilizing factor; Israel is the solution, not the problem.
I must tell you that many countries in the region have already recognized this and the trend of understanding and cooperation with them is strengthening. Israel will continue to act in order to maintain its security and the quiet on our northern border and opposite the Gaza Strip. The quiet has been maintained as a result of the defensive and counter-terrorist operations of the IDF and, if need be, certainly if we are attacked, of the understanding by our enemies that we will respond against them in very great strength.
I chose to hold this festive Cabinet meeting on the Golan Heights in order to deliver a clear message: The Golan Heights will forever remain in Israel's hands. Israel will never come down from the Golan Heights. The population on the Golan Heights grows year by year; today it numbers approximately 50,000 and there are thousands of families due to join them in the coming years. We will continue to strengthen the residents, the communities, the industry and the agriculture however we can, including through the decisions that we will make at this meeting.
While what is happening on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights is clear, one cannot say this about what is happening on the Syrian side. I spoke last night with US Secretary of State John Kerry and I told him that I doubt that Syria will ever return to what it was. It has persecuted minorities, such as the Christians, Druze and Kurds, who are justly fighting for their future and their security. But it also has terrorist elements, especially Daesh, Iran and Hezbollah, and others, that want to impose radical Islam on Syria and the region, and from there continue to impose it throughout the world.
I told the Secretary of State that we will not oppose a diplomatic settlement in Syria, on condition that it not come at the expense of the security of the State of Israel, i.e. that at the end of the day, the forces of Iran, Hezbollah and Daesh will be removed from Syrian soil. The time has come for the international community to recognize reality, especially two basic facts. One, whatever is beyond the border, the boundary itself will not change. Two, after 50 years, the time has come for the international community to finally recognize that the Golan Heights will remain under Israel's sovereignty permanently."