Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to lay a cornerstone for a new Jewish community in the Golan Heights next month, to be named after President Donald Trump, reports Makor Rishon.
The new town, to be declared officially by Netanyahu and the head of the Golan Regional Council, Chaim Rokach, is expected to have a mixed communal character, and religious and secular Jews will live there. About 120 families will reside there initially. It will be located near the community of Kela Alon in the northern Golan, and will be built on the basis of past plans for the establishment of Baruch in 1992, which failed and were not implemented.
Uri Heitner, one of the leaders of the Golan residents and a member of Kibbutz Ortal, says that the new town is “the realization of a vision, a great news for the future of the Golan Heights and its development, in light of President Trump’s historic declaration of his country’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.”
According to Heitner, “Since the liberation of the Golan Heights, 33 yishuvim have been established, 29 of which were established during the Ma’arach [left-wing] period between 1967 and 1977. Only four yishuvim were established in 42 years of right-wing rule, and this is expected to be the fifth yishuv.”
Netanyahu conceived the idea of establishing a new Jewish community on the Golan during his visit to the area during a family vacation. “It is necessary to express our appreciation of the naming of a [town] or a site in the name of Donald Trump on the Golan Heights,” he said at the time. “I’ll bring it to the government soon.” No one in the Golan, however, imagined that the decision would take shape so quickly before the 52nd anniversary of the liberation of the Golan on June 10.
The location of the new community in the northern Golan was determined by the desire of the state to thicken the sparse Jewish presence in the region relative to that in the center and south of the Golan. Ideas to establish communities in other areas have encountered many bureaucratic snarls and obstacles, which will take years to solve, while the new town can begin to be established within months. The assumption is that most of its residents will be young couples.
The Golan Heights are now also expected to increase foreign investors’ interest in investments in the region, particularly in agriculture, tourism and construction. American recognition also allows the Golan to enter the field of philanthropy for the first time, and cause American investors and donors to invest in this unique region. Until now, the U.S. tax authorities could not recognize donations earmarked for the Golan Heights, which was considered “occupied territory.”
The last time a new community was established in the Golan Heights was with the laying of the cornerstone of Nimrod in 1999.