Monday, September 23, 2019

“Trump Heights”: Netanyahu inaugurates Israeli settlement in occupied Golan Heights.


By Patty Diphusa - June 18, 2019
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Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Golan Heights]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has inaugurated a new illegal settlement, “Trump Heights” in the occupied Golan Heights on 16 June.


This announcement comes as a gesture of appreciation from the Israeli government after US President Donald Trump’s administration recognised the occupied Golan Heights as “Israeli” on 25 March this year - going against decades of US policy.


According to Al Jazeera, Netanyahu called Trump a "great friend" of Israel at the ceremony and described the Golan Heights and it’s location as an important strategic asset to Israel.


"The Golan Heights was and will always be an inseparable part of our country and homeland," Netanyahu said.


Trump announced his gratitude via a Tweet later that day. “Thank you PM @netanyahu and the State of Israel for this great honor!"


The current location for the settlement is originally known as Bruchim, which is over 30 years old and has a population of 10 people. Netanyahu is hoping the rebranding will attract new residents to expand the population.


Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 war, also known as the “Six-Day-War” where up to 130,000 Syrians were forced from their homes. Israel formally annexed the territory in 1981.


The annexation has not been recognised by the majority of the international community and is contrary to the Public International Law principle which prohibits annexation of territories by force.


The “Trump Heights” inauguration was also attended by a number of ministers and the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.


Friedman’s previous comments in an interview with the New York Times that “Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank” has raised concerns over the partiality of Washington as a broker in the Israel-Palestine conflict.


According to an opinion piece by Haaretz, the so-called “Trump Heights” is ultimately an Israeli town which “does not exist”. The newspaper reported that no real steps towards the establishment of the settlement have been taken: no budget, no specific location, no plan.


Indeed, the actual consolidation of this decision is not possible as the current Israeli Government is temporary.


Netanyahu failed to meet the deadline to form a Government last May and new elections are scheduled for 17 September 2019. Thus, whether “Trump Heights” becomes a livable settlement depends on the government elected after the September polls.


Trump's recognition of Israel’s illegal sovereignty over the Golan Heights comes after a string of similar announcements favouring Israel,  in direct contradiction the US government’s previous stance in the region.


Since Trump’s presidency, he has slashed all US aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees, cut diplomatic ties and declared the city of Jerusalem – part of which Palestinians claim – as Israel’s capital.

 

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