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Netanyahu, Trump celebrate new ‘Trump Heights’ settlement in the occupied Golan

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled the sign marking the location of the newest illegal settlement in the occupied Golan Heights on Sunday. The soon-to-be settlement’s name? “Trump Heights.”

Standing in front of the massive plaque, written in Hebrew and English with emblems of the US and Israeli flags on top, Netanyahu spoke to officials at the unveiling ceremony, saying “Trump is a great friend of Israel.”

“He has torn the mask off this hypocrisy which doesn’t recognize the obvious,” he said, praising the event as a “historic day” for Israel. “We are proud that we have the opportunity to establish a new settlement and to give thanks to a great friend,” he said.

US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to express his gratitude to Netanyahu, thanking him for the “great honor.”

According to CNN, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman sat next to Netanyahu during the unveiling, and thanked the premier for the “extraordinary gesture,” which he said was “well-deserved.”

Senior Palestinian official Dr. Hanan Ashrawi condemned Friedman and Trump’s special envoy Jason Greenblatt for their support of the move, saying it reflects the Trump administration’s “determined steps to undermine and circumvent the requirements of peace in the region.”

“They also mirror the administration’s abject disregard for international law and the United Nations Charter. This is an extension of the Trump administration’s endorsement of the Israeli theft of the occupied capital of Palestine, Jerusalem, then the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, by way of annexation,” she said.

The Golan Heights, West Bank, and East Jerusalem were captured by Israel in the 1967 war. Jerusalem was illegally annexed by Israel in 1980, and a year later Israel extended its “laws, jurisdiction and administration” into the Golan Heights, essentially annexing it as well in a move that today remains unrecognized by the international community.

Netanyahu announced his plans to name a new Golan Heights settlement after Trump back in April, as a thank you to the US president for his recognition in March of the occupied Syrian territory as part of Israel.

Given that construction on the new settlement has yet to begin, and is contingent upon Netanyahu being able to win another election in September and successfully form a coalition, the event was largely symbolic.

Coming off of a whirlwind election and failure to form a coalition, Netanyahu used Sunday’s event to remind his right-wing base of his strong relationship with Trump and his ability to leverage that for right-wing, pro-settler interests.

Historically, world leaders, including former US presidents, have refrained from recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied territories, and maintain that the continued settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is illegal.

But, as he did with Jerusalem, Trump completely changed the American discourse surrounding the territories, and broke with decades of US foreign policy in the region when he recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

He justified his decision by claiming that it was of “critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and regional stability.”

Palestinian officials have condemned the move, accusing the US administration of “whitewashing the Israeli occupation.”

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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7 Responses

  1. Kay24 on June 17, 2019, 4:25 pm

    It is so appropriate. An illegal settlement, condemned and criticized by the rest of the world, name after a president illegally helped by Russia, who has been condemned and criticized by the rest of the world. The illegal dump is called Trump. So fitting.

  2. LiberatePalestine on June 18, 2019, 3:53 am

    tRump Heights. They should have called it tRump Depths.

    • johneill on June 20, 2019, 3:39 am

      this name tracks with the israeli history of jewish settlements being ‘higher’ than other lived spaces, cf. nazareth illit, or hilltop outposts, even the concept of aliyah.

  3. Citizen on June 18, 2019, 7:05 am

    That all this is, and has been going on without any US mainstream media channel pointing out it’s all actually illegal under international law and in stark defiance to all the world’s countries disapproval except Israel’s and the current regime in USA, speaks volumes about who controls this world we live in. Difficult to realize this is what our soldiers died for in WW2.

  4. Misterioso on June 18, 2019, 8:58 am

    Here’s a short video featuring Zionist thugs, Netanyahu and Friedman gloating:

    “‘Trump Heights’: Israel names Golan Heights settlement after US president” June 16/19

    “Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has unveiled ‘Trump Heights’, a new settlement named after Donald Trump on the contested frontier with Syria, the Golan Heights. The US president signed a decree in March saying the US recognised Israeli sovereignty over the territory seized from Syria in 1967. Netanyahu unveiled a sign labeled ‘Trump Heights’ in English and Hebrew, decorated with the Israeli and US flags and planted on a patch of synthetic grass.”

    ”Trump Heights”: Israeli settlement in Golan named after US president”

    The Guardian, June 17/19

    “‘Trump Heights’: Israeli settlement in Golan named after US president”

    “It is a world away from the grandiose high-rises that bear his name.

    “A sleepy, crumbling hamlet of fewer than a dozen Israeli residents surrounded by sun-parched fields of crisp hay. Weeds punctuate the cracked asphalt of a basketball court, its rusted hoops leaning at angles.

    “This hinterland settlement in the Golan Heights has become the next recipient of the Trump brand empire. Built on land captured from Syria in a war fought half a century ago, it is some of the most contentious real estate on the planet.

    “Israel’s claim to the strategic volcanic plateau that overlooks Lebanon, Jordan and the Sea of Galilee has been rebuked by the UN and never internationally recognised. For decades, Israeli settlement in the Golan Heights had been globally shunned.

    “That was until Trump heard about it and recognised Israel’s claim with a tweet. To thank his benefactor, Benjamin Netanyahu said he would name a settlement after the US president.

    “On Sunday, the Israeli prime minister and his cabinet convened in the tiny outpost for the inauguration of its new title, emblazoned on a giant billboard: “Ramat Trump” – or Trump Heights.

    “The US president thanked Netanyahu with another tweet”

    “Local rights groups estimate up to 130,000 Syrians fled or were forced from their homes in the 1967 war and have not been allowed to return. Many of their farms and villages have since been demolished, and the ruins of stone houses can still be seen across the fields. Parts of the Golan remain mined.

    “Israel’s government offered citizenship to the few thousand remaining Syrians, mostly Druze Arabs, but most reject it, opting instead for resident status. To entrench itself, Israel has built military bases and established a civilian foothold of about 20,000 settlers, who have wineries, cattle farms and a small tourism industry.

    “Many of the residents are similar to those who took Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. Some believe Jewish people have biblical rights to the land but have always known they could be removed in a peace agreement. That almost happened in 2000, when Syria’s then president, Hafez al-Assad, and Israel appeared close to a deal, although it collapsed at the last moment.”

    • Kay24 on June 18, 2019, 2:47 pm

      They know how to get around a narcissistic fool. Flatter him (which Crooked Bibi has done) and treat him like a God (while laughing at how he can be manipulated). This is part of the thank you for Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Cunning? You bet.

  5. James Canning on June 18, 2019, 11:56 am

    The Golan Heights continue to be Syrian territory under international law. Trump’s encouragement of Israel’s trampling on that law is contemptible.

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