Israel’s Netanyahu wants to name Golan settlement after Trump

Prime minister says ‘need to express’ gratitude for US president’s decision to recognise Israeli claim to sovereignty.

U.S. President Trump sees Israel''s Prime Minister Netanyahu off from the White House in Washington
Last month, Trump officially recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights territory [File: Leah Millis/Reuters]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he wants to name a new settlement in the occupied Golan Heights after US President Donald Trump, in appreciation of his recognition of Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the strategic plateau.

Netanyahu, who has been on a trip to the area with his family for the week-long Jewish Passover holiday, said in a video message on Tuesday that there was a “need to express our appreciation” to the US president.

“Therefore, after the Passover holiday, I intend to bring to the government a resolution calling for a new community on the Golan Heights named after President Donald J Trump,” he said.

Breaking with long-standing international consensus last month, Trump officially recognised Israel’s annexation of the strategic plateau that it seized from Syria in 1967 in the Arab-Israeli war and annexed in 1981.

“All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu said.

Trump’s Golan move, which was widely condemned by Arab leaders and UN Security Council nations, followed his decision in December 2017 to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, breaking with decades of US policy over the status of a city contested by the Palestinians.

The US embassy was also relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last year, which sparked anger in the Muslim world.

Trump has shifted US policy sharply in Israel’s favour since taking office in January 2017.

His Golan decision came only two weeks before a tightly contested Israeli election, which saw Netanyahu win a likely fifth term in office.

Netanyahu is currently talking to potential coalition partners in order to form Israel’s next government.

Israel has said separately that, in appreciation of the US president, it intends to name a proposed train station near Jerusalem’s Western Wall after him.

Israel annexed the mountain plateau of Golan in 1981, a move unrecognised by most of the international community.

An estimated 20,000 Israelis live in more than 33 Golan Heights settlements, which most of the international community considers illegal.

Around 18,000 Syrians from the Druze sect, most of whom refuse to take Israeli citizenship, remain in the occupied Golan.

Source: News Agencies