Israel unveils a new settlement called 'Trump Heights', which isn't actually new and doesn't even really exist
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday unveiled a new settlement named "Trump Heights" in the disputed Golan Heights region.
- Netanyahu called the event "historic" and said the community was named in honor of "a very great friend of the State of Israel."
- But according to Ynet News, Trump Heights replaces the name of an existing village called Beruchim, home to about 10 people.
- Critics dismissed the move as a PR stunt with no actual planning, and its creation is not legally binding.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday unveiled a new settlement named "Trump Heights" in the disputed Golan Heights region.
The name, a nod to the US President, follows Trump's formal recognition for Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights, a mostly hilly region which borders Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and Israel considers it a part of its state, though much of the international community considers it to be occupied territory.
In a ceremony on Sunday, Netanyahu unveiled the community's sign complete with interlaced Israeli and US flags, and said the move honored "a very great friend of the State of Israel."
"We are proud that we have this opportunity to establish the community and also honor a great friend," Netanyahu told the press. "This is a historic day for us."
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweeted on Sunday that this was the first time Israel has dedicated a village to a sitting president since Harry Truman in 1949. He also extended birthday wishes to Trump.
Trump on Sunday called the naming a "great honor."
According to Ynet News, Trump Heights replaces the name of an existing village called Beruchim, home to about 10 people. The settlement borders a larger community called Qela, which protested the name change over concern that their community would become part of "Trump Heights."
Critics dismissed the move as a PR stunt meant to stroke the ego of the US president. Member of Knesset Zvi Hauser noted that the establishment of the community is in concept only.
"Those who read the fine print of this 'historic' decision understand that it is a dummy decision," he wrote on Twitter. "There is no budgeting, no planning, no location and no real binding decision."
Nadav Eyal, Chief International Correspondent for Reshet News, noted that the interim Israeli government can't legally follow through with the development of a new community while new elections have been called.
A great day on the Golan. PM Netanyahu and I had the honor to dedicate "Trump Heights" - first time Israel has dedicated a village in honor of a sitting president since Harry Truman (1949). Happy Birthday Mr. President!! @POTUS pic.twitter.com/fdYWzokFLK- David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) June 16, 2019
Thank you Mr. Prime Minister, a great honor! https://t.co/ozLz84g3i0- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 17, 2019
Israeli government is unveiling today this sign. However, since this is an election period the government cannot actually decide to establish the village or start building. So they put this nice plaque, and there's also some synthetic grass. Say what u will on Bibi-he gets Trump. pic.twitter.com/PEcaqQLn9A- נדב איל Nadav Eyal (@NadavEyalDesk) June 16, 2019