Israel to name Golan town after Trump
I will name a Golan town after Trump, says Israel’s Netanyahu
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu says he intends to name a new settlement in the occupied Golan Heights after US President Donald Trump.
Mr Netanyahu said the move would honour Mr Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan in March.
Israel seized the Golan from Syria in 1967 and annexed the territory in 1981. The move has not been recognised internationally.
Syria said Mr Trump’s decision was “a blatant attack on its sovereignty”.
Mr Netanyahu, who has secured a fifth term in office in the recent Israeli elections, has been on a trip to the region with his family for the week-long Passover holiday.
“All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
“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 in a video message.
What are the Golan Heights?
The region is located about 60km (40 miles) south-west of the Syrian capital, Damascus, and covers about 1,200 sq km (400 sq miles).
Israel seized most of the Golan Heights from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Middle East war, and thwarted a Syrian attempt to retake the region during the 1973 war.
The two countries agreed a disengagement plan the following year that involved the creation of a 70km-long (44-mile) demilitarised zone patrolled by a United Nations observer force. But they remained technically in a state of war.
In 1981, Israel’s parliament passed legislation applying Israeli “law, jurisdiction, and administration” to the Golan, in effect annexing the territory. But the international community did not recognise the move and maintained that the Golan was occupied Syrian territory. UN Security Council Resolution 497 declared the Israeli decision “null and void and without international legal effect”.
Three years ago, when former US President Barack Obama was in office, the US voted in favour of a Security Council statement expressing deep concern that Mr Netanyahu had declared Israel would never relinquish the Golan.
Syria has always insisted that it will not agree a peace deal with Israel unless it withdraws from the whole of the Golan. The last US-brokered direct peace talks broke down in 2000, while Turkey mediated in indirect talks in 2008.
There are more than 30 Israeli settlements in the Golan, which are home to an estimated 20,000 people. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this. The settlers live alongside some 20,000 Syrians, most of them Druze Arabs, who did not flee when the Golan was captured.