Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday announced the establishment of a new Jewish settlement in the occupied Syrian territory of Golan Heights, honouring US President Donald Trump.
In March, Trump had officially recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, a part of Syria that has been under Israeli military occupation since the Six-Day War of 1967.
“I promised that we would establish a community named after President Donald 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,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting via a Twitter post.
He said he was going to ask President Reuven Rivlin for an extension of the period to form a coalition after winning April’s general elections, Efe news reported.
Netanyahu’s request came due to a busy holiday season following the Israeli election that delayed negotiations with the parties to make up the ruling coalition government.
In addition, he said that Israel will commemorate the first anniversary of the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, which will be completed soon with the transfer of the official residence of the Ambassador David Friedman.
“This week we will mark one year since the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. The official residence of the US Ambassador to Israel is also moving to Jerusalem. Thus, in effect, the Congressional decision will be implemented,” Netanyahu added.
Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan has been controversial since the UN Security Council on December 17, 1981, unanimously adopted Resolution No. 497, which rejected the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, considering it as “null and void and without international legal effect”.
Even before Trump’s recognition of Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, his support for Netanyahu was seen as connected to the US administration’s Middle East peace plan.
Most of the 26,000 members of the Druze religious community in the Golan Heights have refused assimilation into the Israeli state and nearly all of them boycotted Israel’s first-ever attempt to hold municipal elections in the territory in October 2018.
International media outlets reported that around 20,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the Golan Heights.