Netanyahu Says Plan for New Golan Community Named After Trump Under Way

The community, which would be the first new Jewish community established in the Golan Heights since 1999, is expected to house 120 families in the first stage

The Golan Heights, Israel, May 12, 2019.
Gil Eliahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office is expected to submit a plan for a new community in the Golan Heights to be named after U.S. President Donald Trump in the coming weeks.

The plan will not form a new community, however, but use an existing plan approved in 1992 but never carried out. 

The plan, which will be sent to the National Planning and Construction Commission, was first promised by Netanyahu in April. The prime minister mentioned it again during the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

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The official position of the Finance Ministry’s Planning Administration, however, is that new towns are not to be built in Israel; rather, the ministry strives to expand and strengthen already existing towns and neighborhoods.

Since there does exist a plan from 1992 to build a community named Bruchim, which is now zoned as a neighborhood in the community of Kela Alon, in the northern Golan Heights, some 25 kilometers from both Katzrin and Kiryat Shmona, Israel is expected to expand that neighborhood and name it after the U.S. president.

Under the plan, 110 plots designated for Bruchim that were never developed will be separated from Kela Alon and allocated to the new community.

“I promised to build a community named after President Trump, and I am informing you that we have found a place in the Golan on which this new community will be established and that we’ve started the process of its establishment. I will bring the decision for the official approval of the new government when it is formed,” Netanyahu said.

The premier added that the move was a gesture of appreciation for Trump’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in March.

The plan is expected to reach the national planning commission by next month, in time for an event to mark the 52nd anniversary of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan scheduled for June 10.

According to the Golan Regional Council, where the new community will be built, the village will at first house 120 families and will be expanded later on. It would be the first new Jewish community established in the Golan Heights since 1999.

The Planning Administration said in a statement, “Since we are not talking about a community that will be built ex nihilo, but an area that was marked in the past as part of the Regional Master Plan for the Golan Heights (Tamam 2/3), we will support the proposal and bring it to the National Commission for approval shortly.”

MK Yousef Jabareen (Hadash-Ta’al) tweeted in response to Netanyahu’s announcement, “It’s fitting for U.S. President Trump to have a settlement named after him that’s illegal and contravenes international law. Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights is spitting in the world’s face. Transferring Israeli citizens to the Golan is a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. A war crime named after Trump.”