Israel Moves to Name Golan Settlement after Trump

Sunday, 16 June, 2019 - 16:45
Asharq Al-Awsat

The Israeli Cabinet convened in the Golan Heights on Sunday to inaugurate a new settlement named after President Donald Trump in a gesture of appreciation for the US leader's recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the territory.

The settlement isn't exactly new. Currently known as Bruchim, it is over 30 years old and has a population of 10 people.

Israel is hoping the rebranded "Ramat Trump," Hebrew for "Trump Heights," will encourage a wave of residents to vastly expand it.

"It's absolutely beautiful," said US Ambassador David Friedman, who attended Sunday's ceremony. Noting that Trump celebrated his birthday on Friday, he said: "I can't think of a more appropriate and a more beautiful birthday present."

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it in 1981. Most of the international community considers the move illegal under international law.

But during a visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin in March, just weeks before Israeli elections, Trump signed an executive order recognizing the strategic mountainous plateau as Israeli territory. The decision, the latest in a series of diplomatic moves benefiting Israel, was widely applauded in Israel.

"Few things are more important to the security of the state of Israel than permanent sovereignty over the Golan Heights," Friedman said. "It is simply obvious, it is indisputable and beyond any reasonable debate."

After the Cabinet decision, Netanyahu and Friedman unveiled a sign trimmed in gold with the name "Trump Heights" and adorned with US and Israeli flags.

Addressing the ceremony, Netanyahu called Trump a "great friend" of Israel and described the Golan, which overlooks northern Israel, as an important strategic asset.

"The Golan Heights was and will always be an inseparable part of our country and homeland," he said.

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