Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today he plans to name a settlement in the Golan Heights after President Donald Trump, one month after Trump recognized the Syrian territory captured during the June 1967 war as part of Israel.
In a video message Netanyahu said,
“I’m here on the beautiful Golan Heights. All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Therefore, after the Passover holiday, I intend to bring to the government a resolution calling for a new community on the Golan Heights named after President Donald J. Trump.”
In similar fashion, in December 2017 Israel’s transportation minister announced a station under construction in Jerusalem’s Old City will be named after Trump, following the president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli territory. Both the station and the settlement are located in occupied territory.
The JTA reported less than 50,000 people live in the sparsely populated and mountainous Golan Heights, of whom half are Israeli-Jews and half are Druze. Most of the Druze are Syrian citizens as Israel offered citizenship decades ago but many rejected it. Syria’s mission to the UN said before the 1967 war 140,000 Syrians lived in the Golan. To date, Israel has constructed more than 40 towns in the region.
Syria estimates there are around 500,000 refugees and their heirs who were not allowed to return to their towns in the Golan after the 1967 war.
President Trump recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli territory on in late March in a White House speech alongside Netanyahu who was visiting the U.S. just two weeks before Israeli elections that took place earlier this month.
“Today aggressive action by Iran and terrorist groups in southern Syria, including Hizbollah continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks against Israel,” Trump said.
Netanyahu said Israel had “liberated the Golan” from Syria during wars, in 1967 and in 1973. In 1967 shortly after Israeli forces first took over the Golan, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling on Israel to return the territory to Syria. International law prohibits transfer of population to lands acquired during hostilities.
Israel’s Parliament voted to annex the Golan Heights in 1981. At the time no country recognized the move.