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Israel to hold local elections in occupied Golan Heights

Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri has issued a decision to hold local elections in the Golan Heights for the first time since Israel occupied the Syrian territories in 1967, Israel Hayom reported.

The paper said the move aims to strengthen Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and to integrate the local Druze community.

The ministry explained that it had appointed temporary local councils to manage villages in the area until municipal elections are held in early October.

Analyst and political activist, Salman Fakhr Al-Din, said in an interview with Quds Press that "conducting the elections under the supervision of the occupying state needs clarification and in-depth discussions within the whole Golan community, to understand the real purpose of these elections, especially if the region is under the United Nations supervision."

Fakhr Al-Din, who is also a resident of the village of Majdal Shams in the Golan, wondered whether the Israeli authorities intend to prevent some electoral lists from participating in the elections under the pretext of their loyalties to "hostile parties".

Read: Israel's ruling party calls for de-facto annexation of West Bank settlements

He stressed that a majority of the political forces will boycott the elections, saying "a democratic right cannot be used to justify the occupation's policies and validate its existence".

"However, this will not prevent us from demanding good local services. The area is occupied under international law, and it is the duty of the occupying state to provide basic services to citizens," he added.

The Golan Heights includes four Druze towns namely Buq'ata, Masadeh, Majdal Shams and Ein Kinya and includes approximately 25,000 Arab citizens.

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