'Trump Heights': Israel names Golan Heights settlement after U.S. president

Clay Curtis
June 18, 2019

An estimated 20,000 Israelis live in Golan Heights settlements, which most of the global community considers illegal, the Associated Press reported.

At a special cabinet session in Beruchim, a sparse clutch of homes just 7.5 miles from the Golan Heights armistice line with Syria, Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman unveiled a sign labelled "Trump Heights" in English and Hebrew.

"We will continue developing the Golan Heights for the benefit of its Jewish and non-Jewish population", Netanyahu said.

Earlier this year, President Trump unilaterally recognised the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, ignoring global law under which it remains occupied territory.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who sat next to Netanyahu during the festive cabinet meeting, praised the decision.

In May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided his cabinet details of the community to be named for the USA president.

"All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights", Netanyahu said at the time.

In 1981, the Israeli parliament passed legislation extending Israeli law to the Golan. "This is an act of Zionism and it is paramount", said Netanyahu at Sunday's meeting.

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At a naming ceremony on Sunday, Mr Netanyahu said Trump Heights honoured Mr Trump for his decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the territory.

An Israeli court on Sunday convicted the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of fraudulently using state funds for meals, under a plea bargain which saw her admit to lesser charges.

Zvi Hauser, an opposition lawmaker who formerly served as Netanyahu's Cabinet secretary, called Sunday's ceremony a cheap PR stunt.

Netanyahu proposed the idea to name a community after Trump in April, two weeks after he won re-election as prime minister, while touring the area.

The decision, the latest in a series of U.S. diplomatic moves benefitting Israel, was widely applauded in Israel.

Friedman said the Golan Heights is "incredibly important territory for Israel".

Today it is happening: We are making an important step toward the rise of Trump Heights.

Some 23,000 Druze - an Arab Muslim minority also present in Syria and Lebanon - live in the occupied and annexed portion of the Golan, while 25,000 Israeli settlers have arrived there since 1967. "There is no budget, there is no planning, there is no place, and there is really no binding decision", he added.

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