Israeli government officially approves plans to build Golan community named for Trump

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu introduces the new Golan Heights community of Ramat Trump, or Trump Heights, in honor of President Donald Trump to thank him for recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the strategic territory, June 16, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90) 

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli government officially approved plans to build Trump Heights, a new community on the Golan Heights.

The community, known in Hebrew as Ramat Trump, was listed in a bill to establish the community that was submitted for approval one year ago, during an interim government, which could not officially approve the project.

The community will be home to 300 families, Settlements Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in a post on Facebook. A sign for the community was dedicated in June.

“Today, we will begin practical steps toward establishing the community of Ramat Trump on the Golan Heights, Israel’s sovereignty over which was recognized by President Trump,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

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Netanyahu announced in April 2019 that he would form the new community in honor of Trump a month after the U.S. president signed a proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the strategic heights, which Israel captured from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967 and annexed in 1981. The United States is the first country to recognize the Golan as part of Israel.

No new communities have been established on the Golan since 1999. Trump Heights will be located on the site of a neighborhood that was approved but never built in 1992.

The approval came Sunday, on Trump’s 73rd birthday.

“Happy birthday President @realDonaldTrump!” Netanyahu tweeted. “You’ve been an INCREDIBLE friend to Israel and you’ve done extraordinary things for the Jewish state for which we are eternally grateful.”

Along with the Golan recognition, the tweet cited Trump moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, withdrawing the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, of which Netanyahu was a vehement opponent, and the administration’s peace plan. It also said Trump “exposed the corrupt and biased ICC,” the International Criminal Court.