Israel Inaugurates Illegal ‘Trump Heights’ Settlement (VIDEOS)

Benjamin Netanyahu has inaugurated a new illegal settlement in the occupied Golan Heights named after Donald Trump. (Photo: via Social Media)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has inaugurated a new illegal settlement in the occupied Golan Heights named after US President Donald Trump in a gesture of appreciation for the US leader’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the territory.

Netanyahu on Sunday called Trump a “great friend” of Israel and described the Golan Heights, which overlooks northern Israel, as an important strategic asset.

He said:

“The Golan Heights was and will always be an inseparable part of our country and homeland.”

The settlement will be called “Ramat Trump”, Hebrew for “Trump Heights” and is not exactly new. Currently known as Bruchim, it is over 30 years old and has a population of 10 people.

Trump tweeted later on Sunday:

“Thank you PM @netanyahu and the State of Israel for this great honor!”

Israel is hoping the rebranded settlement will encourage a wave of residents to vastly expand it.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who attended Sunday’s ceremony:

“It’s absolutely beautiful.”

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 Middle East 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 Netanyahu in March, just weeks before the Israeli elections, Trump changed decades of US policy by signing an executive order, officially recognizing the strategic mountainous plateau as Israeli territory.

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

After a cabinet meeting at the site on Sunday, Netanyahu and Friedman unveiled a sign trimmed in gold with the name “Trump Heights”, adorned with US and Israeli flags.

Developing Trump Heights will not be easy. Ringed by high yellow grass and landmines, it is located roughly 20km from the Syrian border and a half-hour-drive from the nearest Israeli town, Kiryat Shmona, a community of about 20,000 people near the Lebanese border.

According to Israeli figures, almost 50,000 people live in the occupied Golan Heights, including about 22,000 Jewish Israelis and nearly 25,000 Arab Druze residents.

While Israel has encouraged and promoted settlement in the Golan, its remote location, several hours from the economic center of Tel Aviv, has been an obstacle.

The area is home to small agriculture and tourism sectors but otherwise has little industry.

(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)

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