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Trump Heights: Israel names Golan settlement after Trump

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen at the dedication of an Israeli settlement to US President Donald Trump, in the Golan Heights on 16 June 2019 [USAmbIsrael / Twitter]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen at the dedication of an Israeli settlement to US President Donald Trump, in the Golan Heights on 16 June 2019 [USAmbIsrael / Twitter]

On a dusty plain in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, a golden-lettered sign with Israeli and American flags stands before a rusty wire fence as the gateway to "Trump Heights."

The Trump Heights settlement, which was inaugurated as a celebration to mark US President Donald Trump's recognition of the Golan as Israeli territory, has started to attract investors in the region.

Haim Rokash, head of the Golan Regional Council, said that "the area has witnessed a great deal of attention from investors since Trump's announcement and the decision to build the settlement. There have been significant changes around here."

Israel occupied the Golan Heights, a strategic military region, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Trump's recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights has been an addition to a series of steps that violate international consensus, including the recognition of Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel, and giving Netanyahu the green light to expand settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.

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Israel's ongoing violations have been consolidated by signing two normalisation agreements with the Emirates and Bahrain, a step which the Palestinians considered as a "stab in the back."

The Palestinians, who seek to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, fear that the ongoing normalisation wave will lead to liquidating their cause.

Settlement expansion

In the Golan Heights, where vineyards are surrounded by herds of livestock grazing in the adjacent lands, visitors can see the Lebanon Mountains from afar.

The Trump Heights settlement was built in 1991 to host hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews who migrated after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Since then, only small groups of settlers populated the area. However, renaming the settlement played a role reviving the area, as 20 Israeli families are expected to move there by November.

According to Shay Yehekil, director of foreign affairs in the Golan Regional Council, land plots are being prepared for launching the construction work of houses, noting that the settlement will receive 20 families annually during the next decade.

Yehekil added: "For the first time in nearly 30 years, we have hope. The area is going to become one of the centres of the Golan."

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