The “Trump Heights” project is intended to thank Trump for recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the plateau in March.
The Trump administration said at the time that it was recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights because of Israel’s “need to protect itself from Syria and other regional threats.”
“Today, aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hizballah, in southern Syria continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks on Israel,” a statement from the White House read.
After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2019
At a special cabinet session in Beruchim, a sparse clutch of homes just 7.5 miles from the Golan Heights armistice line with Syria, Netanyahu unveiled a sign labeled “Trump Heights” in English and Hebrew.
The sign was decorated with the Israeli and U.S. flags and planted on a patch of synthetic grass.
Golan Heights is a strip of land about 40 miles by 12 miles, east of the upper Jordan River. It was part of Syria and used to launch routine attacks on Israel for almost two decades from 1948, until it was taken over by Israeli soldiers in 1967 during the Six-Day War. Israel laid claim to the land in 1981, maintaining that it needs to retain control over the area because it otherwise would again be used to launch attacks on Israel.
Syria has been in a perpetual dispute with Israel over the land.
“This should have been done, I would say, numerous Presidents ago,” Trump commented on the declaration during the meeting with Netanyahu. “But for some reason, they didn’t do it, and I’m very honored to have done it.”
“Trump is a great friend of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “He has torn the mask off this hypocrisy which doesn’t recognize the obvious.”
“Thank you PM @Netanyahu and the State of Israel for this great honor!” Trump said on Twitter.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2019
Israeli authorities hope a revamping of Beruchim, an aging immigrant community from the former Soviet Union, to “Trump Heights” might bring an influx of residents, and Netanyahu called the day historic.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) June 16, 2019
Trump and Israel
Trump has reaffirmed and strengthened the alliance with Israel while in office.
On Feb. 23, 2018, Trump announced that the U.S. Embassy in Israel would move to Jerusalem. The embassy officially relocated on May 14, 2018, on the 70th anniversary of the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
The relocation was originally mandated by Congress in the Jerusalem Embassy Act passed in 1995. Presidents had been since delaying it every six months on national security grounds.
The Trump administration also withdrew the United States from UNESCO, due to the U.N. agency’s bias against Israel. Following the decision, Israel also announced it would withdraw from the organization.
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, is married Jared Kushner, a conservative Jewish man. She converted to Judaism; both are senior advisers at the White House.
Democrats and Israel
More than two-thirds of Americans maintain a largely positive view of Israel, a February Gallup poll showed, although support for the Jewish state’s side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has somewhat diminished among liberals, Democrats, and even moderate and liberal Republicans.
Several Democrats running for the 2020 presidential nomination, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Beto O’Rourke, decided they wouldn’t attend this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference on March 24-26. AIPAC is a bipartisan group with a mission to strengthen, protect, and promote the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
The Epoch Times reporter Petr Svab and Reuters contributed to this report.