Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s caretaker government held its weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday in the newly-announced “Trump Heights” on the Golan Heights in northern Israel.
US Ambassador David Friedman was present at the cabinet meeting, which also acted as a kind of inauguration of the yet-to-be-built Golan settlement.
Netanyahu decided to name the new village after the American leader following the latter’s official recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan.
Trump Heights, in Hebrew “Ramat Trump,” will be built where the tiny settlement of Bruchim is today located. Bruchim was founded in 1991 by then-Housing Minister Ariel Sharon to house new immigrants from the former Soviet Union. It never caught on with the newcomers, and today has just 10 inhabitants.
Sunday’s meeting at the site officially changed the name of Bruchim to Trump Heights, complete with a new sign and a promise of future development.
Ambassador Friedman called the gesture a grand birthday present (Trump celebrates his birthday on Friday), and reiterated the US administration’s new realization that permanent Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights is critical to regional stability.
Netanyahu called it a “historic day,” noting that it had been a “very long time” since Israel had approved the establishment of a new settlement on the strategic plateau.
It should be noted that the current Israeli government is a caretaker government with no real authority to make such decisions. As such, Trump Heights currently exists in name only. There is presently no approved building plan or government financing for development. Whether or not those things materialize and Trump Heights becomes a real settlement with actual inhabitants will likely depend on the outcome of the national election on September 17.
But, for now, there is a sign, and a promise. And that’s something.