Arab MK Calls New Trump Town Illegal

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.(Gali Tibbon/Pool via Reuters)

An Arab MK lashed out at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to name a new town on the Golan Heights for U.S. President Donald Trump.

“It is fitting for the American President Trump that a settlement whose establishment is illegal and contradicts international law will be named after him,” Hadash-Ta’al MK Yousef Jabareen said on his Twitter account on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu made the announcement at the weekly cabinet meeting that the naming was in appreciation for Trump’s decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

“I promised that we would establish a community named after President Trump. I would like to inform you that we have already selected a site on the Golan Heights where this new community will be established, and we have started the process. I will submit a decision for official approval by the new government once it is formed,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu is expected to lay a cornerstone for a new Jewish town next month, 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.”

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.