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Netanyahu: Golan ours forever

Israel will keep the Golan Heights forever, Benjamin Netanyahu said.

The Israeli opposition leader made his prediction Tuesday during a pre-recorded address broadcast at 30th anniversary celebrations for Katzrin, a major Golan town.

“I remember the Golan Heights without Katzrin, and suddenly we see a thriving city in the land of Israel, which having been a gem of the Second Temple era has been revived anew,” said Netanyahu, who opinion polls predict could win the next general elections. “This place will remain part of the State of Israel forever, but it will be much bigger and will continue to be beautiful.”

The Likud Party chairman’s comment appeared to be directed, at least in part, at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, given widespread speculation that he could enter peace talks with Syria in which Damascus would demand a return of the Golan.

Israel captured the Golan, which has relics of ancient Jewish communities, in the 1967 Six-Day War, and later annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. Olmert has cautiously welcomed recent peace overtures by Syrian President Bashar Assad but said any new talks should be without preconditions.

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