‘Trump Heights’: Israel approves plan for new Golan settlement

US President Donald Trump applauds Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House in Washington on January 28, 2020. (Reuters)

An Israeli cabinet minister on Sunday said the government approved plans to build a new settlement in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights named after President Donald Trump.

Settlements Minister Tzipi Hotovely wrote on Facebook that her ministry will start preparations for Ramat Trump — Hebrew for “Trump Heights” — to house 300 families.

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, and Israeli settlements in the territory, illegal under international law.

An Israeli soldier rides an armored vehicle in the Golan Heights on August 7, 2018. (Reuters)

An Israeli soldier rides an armored vehicle in the Golan Heights on August 7, 2018. (Reuters)

Trump signed an executive order recognizing the strategic mountainous plateau as Israeli territory in March 2019. The move came during a visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just weeks before Israeli elections. The decision, just one of several diplomatic moves benefiting Israel, was widely applauded there.

The Israeli government’s approval of the plan, which according to Israeli media will involve earmarking 8 million shekels ($2.3 million) for developing the town, advances a project announced by Netanyahu last year with great pomp and fanfare.

Last June, Netanyahu convened his Cabinet in the small hamlet of Qela for a vote on rebranding the community as a gesture of appreciation for the president’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The small town of Qela is home to under 300 people. Its original neighborhood of Bruchim, which will be rebranded as Trump Heights, is home to less than a dozen.

At a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said that Israel would “begin practical steps in establishing the community of Ramat Trump on the Golan Heights, Israel’s sovereignty over which was recognized by President Trump.”

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Last Update: Sunday, 14 June 2020 KSA 21:52 - GMT 18:52
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