On US president’s birthday, Israel okays building plans for ‘Trump Heights’
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On US president’s birthday, Israel okays building plans for ‘Trump Heights’

Settlements Minister Tzipi Hotovely says Golan Heights village, which honors the US president’s recognition of Israeli claims to the plateau, will house 300 families

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech before the newly-unveiled sign for the new settlement of 'Ramat Trump,' or 'Trump Heights' in English, named after the US President during an official ceremony in the Golan Heights on June 16, 2019. (Jalaa MAREY/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech before the newly-unveiled sign for the new settlement of 'Ramat Trump,' or 'Trump Heights' in English, named after the US President during an official ceremony in the Golan Heights on June 16, 2019. (Jalaa MAREY/AFP)

An Israeli cabinet minister on Sunday said the government approved plans to build a new village on the Golan Heights named after US 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 Six Day War and annexed it in 1981, a move not recognized by most of the international community.

But 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 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just weeks before Israel’s April election. The decision, just one of several diplomatic moves benefiting Israel, was widely applauded in Jerusalem.

The government’s approval of the plan, which according to Hebrew-language media will involve earmarking NIS 8 million ($2.3 million) for developing the town, advances a project announced by Netanyahu last year with great pomp and fanfare. Sunday’s announcement coincided with Trump’s birthday, although it was unclear if it was connected.

Netanyahu recognized Trump’s birthday in a tweet lauding the US president as “an INCREDIBLE friend to Israel.”

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

The small town 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.”

Israel has built dozens of towns and villages in the Golan over the years, with an estimated 26,000 Israelis living there as of 2019. A large community of Druze live there.

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