Middle East Monitor.com Mon., June 15, 2020
Israel has started preparations to construct a new illegal settlement on the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, named after US President Donald Trump. The move was announced yesterday with government approval.
“We will start today with practical steps to construct Ramat Trump in the Golan Heights,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly meeting of his cabinet in Jerusalem. The Minister of Settlement Affairs, Tzipi Hotovely — soon to be Israel’s Ambassador in London — also confirmed on Facebook that the government will start preparations to build “Trump Heights”.
The small town of Qela in the occupied Syrian territory is home to under 300 people. The neighbourhood of Bruchim, which will be rebranded as Trump Heights, is home to less than a dozen. According to the Jerusalem Post, the project has a budget of 8 million Israeli shekels ($2.3 million) with plans for some 120 families to live there.
Over the years, Israel has built dozens of settlements in the occupied Golan. There are an estimated 26,000 Jewish settlers living there, roughly the same as the number of Arabs, most of them members of the Druze sect.
Last year, Trump recognised the Golan Heights as Israeli territory following the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War and formally annexed the land in 1981. Such a move is illegal under international law and most countries have not recognised Israeli sovereignty over the territory. In April, Syria’s UN representative Dr Bashar Al-Jaafari stated that the liberation of the Golan remains a priority for Damascus.