Netanyahu wants to name Golan Heights settlement in honor of Trump

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, May 22.
President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, May 22. | (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that he intends to propose a resolution to name a new settlement in the Golan Heights after U.S. President Donald Trump to show appreciation for recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the area.

In a short video, the 69-year-old Netanyahu explained that he intends to introduce a resolution after the Passover holiday “calling for a new community on the Golan Heights named after President Donald J. Trump.”

“All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu explained.

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Trump issued a proclamation in March recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a nearly 700-square-mile region in the Levant that shares borders with Lebanon, Syria, and Israel.

Since the Six-Day War of 1967, the western two-thirds of the Golan region has been controlled by Israel and gives the country a strategic military vantage point over Syria. The Golan Heights were annexed by Israel in 1981 after an armistice. Today, the area is home to under 50,000 people. About half of the area’s population are Jewish settlers.

Netanyahu was present for the signing of the proclamation and declared that Israel “never had a better friend” than Trump.

The proclamation stated that “aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hizballah, in southern Syria, continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks on Israel.”

“Any possible future peace agreement in the region must account for Israel's need to protect itself from Syria and other regional threats,” reads the document. “Based on these unique circumstances, it is therefore appropriate to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”

Although praised by Israel, Trump’s decision was criticized by the Syrian government, other Arab states and opponents of Israel’s occupation of the region.

The Syrian government called the decision a “blatant attack” on Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity. Syria tried to wrestle the Golan Heights back from Israel in 1973 but was unsuccessful.

Syria’s foreign ministry said through a state news agency that the declaration makes “the United States the main enemy of the Arabs.”

The New York Times reports that the regional council governing the Golan Heights praised Netanyahu’s suggestion of naming a community after Trump, saying that it “complements the aspiration and the goal we have set to double the number of residents of the Golan within a decade.”

Reportedly, the Israeli government plans to increase the Golan population to 250,000 people by 2048.

Trump gave Israel another gift earlier this month when he made the decision to recognize Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terror organization, which brings with it economic and travel sanctions.

The Revolutionary Guards Corps has been accused of financing and promoting international terrorism.

Last year, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal agreed to by the Obama administration, also to the delight of the Israeli government.

Days after Trump recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Netanyahu won his fifth term in office earlier this month despite facing corruption charges. According to Netanyahu’s office, the prime minister thanked Trump for his support.

After Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017,  Transportation Minister Israel Katz proposed naming a train station near Jerusalem’s Western Wall after Trump.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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