THE Trump name graces apartment towers, hotels and golf courses. Now it is the namesake of a tiny Israeli settlement on the Golan Heights.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet convened in this hamlet on Sunday to inaugurate a new settlement — Trump Heights — in a gesture of appreciation for the American leader’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the territory.
The settlement isn’t exactly new. Currently known as Bruchim, it is more than 30 years old and has a population of only 10 people. But Israel is hoping the rebranded “Ramat Trump — Hebrew for Trump Heights — will encourage new residents to vastly expand it.
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” American ambassador David Friedman said at the ceremony. Noting that Trump had just celebrated his birthday, he said: “I can’t think of a more appropriate birthday present.”
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981. Most of the international community considers the move illegal under international law.
“Few things are more important to the security of the State of Israel than permanent sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Friedman said. “It is indisputable and beyond any reasonable debate.”
At the ceremony, Netanyahu called Trump a “great friend” of Israel and described the Golan, which overlooks northern Israel, as an important strategic asset.
“The Golan Heights was — and will always be — an inseparable part of our country and homeland,” he said.
Developing Ramat Trump will not be easy. Ringed by high yellow grass and landmines, it is 12 miles from the Syrian border and a half-hour drive from the nearest Israeli town, Kiryat Shmona — a community of about 20,000 people near the Lebanese border.
According to Israeli figures, almost 50,000 people live in the Golan, including about 22,000 Jewish Israelis and nearly 25,000 Druze residents.
Rosa Zhernakov, a resident of Bruchim since 1991, said the community was excited by the news.
She added that the revitalisation of the settlement will mean more security for residents from any possible return of the Golan Heights to Syria as part of a future peace treaty.
If you have a story or an issue you want us to cover, let us know - in complete confidence - by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, 0161-741 2631 or via Facebook / Twitter