US, Israeli officials to dedicate Golan town named for Trump in June

Netanyahu and others to lay cornerstone for new community to be built next to existing village of Kela Alon; actual name of town still unknown

Aerial view of the small village of Kela Alon in the Golan Heights, near the site of a new community to be renamed to honor US President Donald Trump. (Golan Regional Council)
Aerial view of the small village of Kela Alon in the Golan Heights, near the site of a new community to be renamed to honor US President Donald Trump. (Golan Regional Council)

American officials will attend a ceremony next month with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lay the cornerstone for a new town in the Golan Heights named for US President Donald Trump, the area’s regional council said Tuesday.

The ceremony on June 12 will dedicate the new community to be built on the site of the existing village of Kela Alon in the northwestern Golan.

The event “will include representatives from the American administration, the prime minister and other members of Knesset,” Golan Regional Council spokeswoman Batya Gotleib said.

She did not name the officials who would attend and there was no immediate confirmation from the Trump administration.

Gotleib said the 20-member Government Names Committee, which has final say, has not yet announced the name of the town.

Last month Netanyahu said his new government would name a town in the Golan Heights after Trump in honor of the US president’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the northern territory.

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)

Trump signed a proclamation on March 25 recognizing Israel’s hold on the plateau 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, along with Israeli praise.

Photo taken on October 18, 2017, shows an Israeli flag fluttering above the wreckage of an Israeli tank sitting on a hill in the Golan Heights and overlooking the border with Syria. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

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.

To celebrate the occasion, the Golan council invited the 25,000 Israeli residents of the area to a gala celebration to be held outside the town of Katzrin, some 14 kilometers south of where the official ceremony will take place at the village.

The June 12 date for the new community’s cornerstone-laying comes a day after the 52nd anniversary of the ceasefire that ended the Six Day War.

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