The Israeli government is planning to increase aid to the Druze communities of the Golan Heights with a huge investment plan spanning four years.
According to Haaretz, the government will spend NIS209.4 million ($59.8 million) between 2014 and 2017, with some NIS80 million going to transportation infrastructure, NIS54 million going to education and NIS12 million being invested in tourism development.
The four Druze towns involved in the plan – Majdal Shams, Masadeh, Bukata and Ein Qiniya – were not included in previous government programs aimed at building up the Druze community in Israel.
Many Druze residents of the Golan Heights have maintained loyalty to Syria’s rulers despite living under Israeli control since the 1967 Six Day War. Their co-religionists who live further to the south in a collection of towns near the city of Haifa, however, are loyal to Israel and serve in the Israel Defense Forces.
Majdal Shams resident Salim Mili told Haaretz that the plan was “an unprecedented decision” and that “never have such sums been invested here.”
While the plan represents an unprecedented investment opportunity in an area of the country that is often neglected, some residents are skeptical about the government’s motives for such a move.
“Some see the plan as political opportunism by the Israeli government, given the situation in Syria,” Mili told Haaretz.
The Majdal Shams resident said that some in his area argue that the plan is an attempt to strengthen Israel’s hold on the Golan Heights and therefore they should not accept the money.
On the other hand, Mili said that investments were required for a number of reasons. “First of all, Israeli law applies to the Golan Heights and the Israeli government is obligated to equal rights to all its residents, and even under the Geneva Convention the occupier is meant to provide fair conditions for those who live under it,” he said.
View original i24NEWS publication at: http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/131222-israel-to-invest-millions-in-golan-druze-towns