If US President Donald Trump has a big ego, just wait until he talks about having a block of land named after him – Trump Heights.
He has hotels, apartment blocks and golf courses named after him and now Trump Heights, Ramat Trump in Hebrew, is the name of a yet-to-be developed Jewish community on the Golan Heights.
Trump Heights was unveiled at a naming ceremony by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday (local time).
Unveiling a large sign bearing the community’s name in Hebrew and English, Netanyahu told the gathered dignitaries “it is a milestone in the history of Golan,” The Times of Israel reported.
“President Trump is a very great friend of the country, a friend who did things for the country there were not done in the past and should have been done in the name of justice and truth.
“The Golan will always be an inseparable part of Israel.”
Trump broke decades of US tradition and recognised the Golan Heights as part of Israel in March. For decades the US and most of the world have rejected Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights, seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, the Arab-Israeli war. The UN charter states, in short, that you can’t keep land you capture, you have to negotiate its fate. The Israeli PM had pledged in April to name a new settlement after Trump after his recognition.
Trump was quick to thank his Israeli counterpart for the gesture.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2019
Trump is in effect endorsing Israel’s seizure of Syria’s territory but the real reason why, as he has stated, is for strategic and security reasons: the threat of Iran.
The US administration has said countless times Iran is using Syria as a base to target Israel, with the Golan Heights the front line.
Netanyahu echoed the concern over Iran at the unveiling.
“We will constantly work against Iran and its proxy Hezbollah to establish themselves militarily in Syria,” he said of the Lebanese terrorist group.
“We all know what is going on over the past decade beyond the border here,” Netanyahu said.
“If we were not here, Iranian militias would be here. We will never allow that to happen.”
US Ambassador David Friedman, who attended the ceremony, called Trump Heights “well deserved, but much appreciated”.
“Anyone who has visited the Golan Heights… immediately realises it is incredible important territory to the State of Israel. Few things are more important to the security of Israel than sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” he said.
Golan Heights is about 60km (40 miles) south-west of the Syrian capital, Damascus, and covers about 1,000 sq km (400 sq miles).
On Sunday (local time), Israel’s cabinet approved Netanyahu’s resolution for an “initiative to establish” a new Golan Heights community near Kela. No money has been earmarked for construction.
A political opponent called the Trump Heights announcement a stunt.
“Anyone who reads the fine print in this ‘historic’ decision will understand that this is nothing more than a non-binding, fake policy,” former cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser said. “There is no budgeting, no planning, no location for a settlement, and there is no binding decision to implement the project. But at least they insisted on a name for the settlement.”