Netanyahu: The Golan will stay Israeli

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL  Jerusalem Post, 29 May 2008

"The Golan was Israeli and will stay Israeli," opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu told the group of about 600 Likud supporters from across the country who gathered at the Eden Springs near Katzrin. "Whoever settles the Golan Heights secures Israel's security. Here can be seen the connection that exists between security and peace. The way to guard the Golan and Jerusalem is to go to elections now. If we don't live here, Iranian soldiers will."

Demonstratively reacting to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's announcement last week that he was holding indirect negotiations with Syria, the Likud Party held a rally in the Golan Heights Thursday.

In addition to Netanyahu, another five Likud MKs - Limor Livnat, Reuven Rivlin, Likud Central Committee Chair Moshe Kahalon, Faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar and Yisrael Katz, leader of the Knesset's Golan Heights Lobby - were present at the rally. They make up half of the party's total Knesset faction.

Sa'ar described the region as Israel's "insurance policy," which guarantees that the situation along the Syrian border will not turn into a "hot" conflict. He also called on Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to clarify her position regarding the Golan Heights.

"There is no Galilee without the Golan, just as there is no Land of Israel without Jerusalem and no Jerusalem without the land of Israel," pronounced Kahalon.

But Likud activists were not the only politicians visiting the area.  Also present at the rally was Uzi Dayan, the founder of the Tafnit Party.

Negev and Galilee Minister Ya'acov Edri also made the drive to the northeast corner of the country Thursday morning, speaking with residents at a number of locations.

Edri said that the people he spoke to expressed confidence in the future of the Golan, and were more interested in talking about future development projects than discussing the negotiations with Damascus.

The Kadima minister said the he did, however, face more general questions from local residents about the state of the government and the coalition - and that Golan residents, like many of their parliamentary representatives in Jerusalem, feel an election is imminent.

Original in Jerusalem Post, 29 May 2008

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