Israel’s government approves funding for Trump Heights settlement

One year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the establishment of Trump Heights settlement in the Golan Heights, the Cabinet approves an initial construction budget.

al-monitor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attend a ceremony to unveil a sign for a new community named after US President Donald Trump, in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, June 16, 2019. Photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad.

Jun 15, 2020

Israel's government approved June 14 $2.3 million in funding for the construction of a settlement in the Golan Heights named after US President Donald Trump. Part of the budget will be used by the Housing Ministry for planning, and the rest by the World Zionist Organization for building temporary structures. The next step after the Cabinet’s decision would be marketing land plots for construction.

Speaking at the beginning of the Cabinet’s weekly session, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "Today, we will begin practical steps in establishing the community of Ramat Trump [Trump Heights] in the Golan Heights, Israel’s sovereignty over which was recognized by President Trump." A statement issued by the Cabinet after the meeting noted, "The initiative to establish a new Golan Heights settlement to be named after President Donald Trump expresses gratitude for his work for the State of Israel and the Golan Heights."

The future Golan Heights village, located near Kela Alon in the western Golan Heights, will be developed on lands belonging to the small Bruchim settlement. Constructed in 1991, the hamlet Bruchim did not succeed in attracting many families. In fact, most of its original inhabitants left over the years. The government now hopes that rebranding the locality will bring new residents.

Welcoming Netanyahu at the White House shortly before the March 2019 elections in Israel, Trump recognized Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights. With the Israeli prime minister by his side, Trump signed a proclamation granting US recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory — a dramatic shift from decades of US policy.

Shortly after the recognition, Netanyahu announced the establishment of the new settlement, in gratitude over Trump’s move. In a special June 2019 session on the Golan Heights, the government affirmed the establishment of a new locality. A giant sign was unveiled that read “Trump Heights" in large gold letters topped by the American and Israeli flags. In November 2019, a boarding school for underprivileged youths in Israel was inaugurated at the site, marking the first arrival of people to the Trump Heights settlement.

Netanyahu’s government would now like to see families moving in. When the boarding school was inaugurated, the authorities estimated that 20 families, both religious and secular, would move there in the summer of 2020. With the coronavirus still spreading in Israel, it is unclear how many families would actually arrive there in the coming months.

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