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Iran Condemns israel for Holding Cabinet Meeting in Occupied Golan Heights

19 April 2016 15:12

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The Iranian foreign ministry deplored Israel’s holding of a cabinet meeting in the occupied Golan Heights, stressing that the region belongs to the Syrians and should be returned.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari condemned the Zionists’ expansionist move and repetition of baseless claims on the region.

“Golan is an occupied territory which belongs to Syria and should be returned to the country,” he added.

Jaberi Ansari described Israel’s measure as clear violation of international laws and rules, and called for the international community’s serious move to confront the Zionist regime’s expansionist and provocative measures.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time held his weekly cabinet meeting in the occupied Golan Heights, amid criticism from Syrians.

Speaking in the Jewish-only settlement of Maaleh Gamla on Sunday, Netanyahu declared that the 70 percent of the Golan, which Israeli forces occupied during the 1967 Middle East war, will “always remain” under Israeli control.

More than 131,000 Syrians – Christians, Muslims and Druze – were driven from the Golan when Israel occupied it 49 years ago, according to the Golan-based Al-Marsad Arab Human Rights Centre.

About 20,000 indigenous Syrian Arabs – mostly from the Druze religious community – live in six villages still standing in the occupied territory. Meanwhile, upwards of 21,000 Israeli settlers live in 33 Jewish-only settlements.

The Syrians oppose Israel’s occupation. They hold Israeli-issued travel documents, but most have rejected offers of Israeli citizenship and remain legally “stateless”.

Israel claimed to have annexed the territory in 1981, but the move was rejected by the international community, including the United Nations.

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