Netanyahu says he’ll name Golan Heights town after Trump
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Netanyahu says he’ll name Golan Heights town after Trump

Touring region on northern border, PM says move will honor US president’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over disputed territory

Benjamin Netanyahu (R) amd his wife Sara tour the Golan Heights on April 23, 2019. (PMO)
Benjamin Netanyahu (R) amd his wife Sara tour the Golan Heights on April 23, 2019. (PMO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that his next government will name a town in the Golan Heights after Donald Trump in honor of the US president’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the northern territory.

“I am here with my family and the masses of citizens of Israel at the foot of the Golan Heights, enjoying the happiness of the [Passover] holiday and our beautiful country,” Netanyahu said in a video statement standing beside his wife Sara during a family tour of the region bordering Syria.

“A few weeks ago I brought the official recognition, by President Trump, who recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights forever. To express our appreciation, I will name a town or a village in the Golan Height after Donald Trump. I will bring [the proposal] before the cabinet [for a vote] soon,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister is currently leading negotiations to form a new government after receiving backing from a majority of the lawmakers elected in this month’s general election.

Trump first said he would recognize Israeli control of the Golan in a tweet on March 21. He signed the actual proclamation on March 25 when Netanyahu visited the White House, in a move seen by some as timed to help the Israeli premier in his re-election bid. It upended decades of US policy and drew some international condemnation, but also Israeli praise.

Israel captured the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and in 1981 effectively annexed the area, in a move never recognized by the rest of international community, which considers the Golan Heights to be occupied Syrian territory.

The high ground of the plateau overlooks the Sea of Galilee and part of the upper Galilee.

US President Donald Trump, seated, holds up a signed proclamation on the Golan Heights, alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, standing center, in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House in Washington, DC, March 25, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Naming a town after Trump would not be the first time that Israeli leaders have honored the US president with an eponymous site, but it would be the most significant.

In December 2017, responding to the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Transportation Minister Israel Katz announced that he would name a train station near the Western Wall after the US president.

In May 2018, after Trump moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the city’s mayor at the time, Nir Barkat, announced he would name a square near the building after the US president. Soccer team Beitar Jerusalem even followed suit, declaring that the team would rename itself after Trump.

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