Caving to violence? Netanyahu pauses Golan energy project for Muslim holiday

The move follows violent protests by the Druze community over Israel’s largest renewable energy project, which they say encroaches on their lands.

By JNS

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif on Saturday that construction on the Golan Heights wind farm project will be put on hold over the Eid al-Adha holiday.

The decision was made upon the recommendation of Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) director Ronen Bar and Israel Police Inspector General Yaakov Shabtai, according to an official statement.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu directed that efforts be made over the coming days to resolve the planning and housing problems in the Druze communities on Mt. Carmel and in the Galilee, which affect the entire Druze community, including young discharged soldiers, who contribute to the security of the state,” the statement said.

The move comes after violent protests last week by members of the Druze community over Israel’s largest renewable energy project, which they claim encroaches on their lands.

Druze leaders sent a letter to Netanyahu on June 22 threatening more demonstrations unless work on the project was frozen for the holiday.

“In the state of affairs that has arisen, the heads of the Druze community see it fit that an immediate freeze of the work and the exit of police forces from the construction site be ordered until the end of Eid al-Adha,” the Druze leaders wrote, referring to the holiday observed by Druze and Muslims that this year runs from June 27 until July 1.

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“We expect the government to answer in the affirmative to this request and to allow the members of the community to mark the holiday period calmly and peacefully,” they continued.

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who opposes the freezing of the project, will meet with Druze leaders in July, it was reported.

The Enlight Renewable Energy company announced the groundbreaking for the $350 million Genesis Wind project in June, which is to include 38 advanced wind turbines.

The company threatened to sue the state for billions of shekels if work on the project does not proceed.