Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

12.03 17 Jun 2019


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The Israeli government has claimed it will establish a new settlement in the Golan Heights named after Donald Trump.

Cabinet members backed the decision at a meeting yesterday, and later unveiled a sign for the planned community.

However, opposition figures have suggested there is no funding or planning approved for the so-called 'Trump Heights'.

It comes after the US President said in May that his government should recognise Israel's authority over the occupied Golan Heights.

The region - which is around 1,800 square kilometres large and located roughly 60 kilometres from Syrian capital Damascus - was captured from Syria in 1967, and effectively annexed by Israel in 1981.

The latter move was not recognised internationally, with the UN deeming Israel's decision 'null and void' without international recognition.

Hundreds of UN peacekeepers - including more than 100 Irish troops - are stationed in the region to maintain a ceasefire between Israeli and Syrian forces.

Following President Trump's decision, the EU reiterated that it "does not recognise Israeli sovereignty" over the territory.

Trump Heights

Announcing plans for 'Trump Heights', Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they were honouring a "very great friend of the State of Israel".

Trump Heights Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the unveiling ceremony of "Trump Heights" in Golan Heights, on June 16, 2019 (Xinhua/JINI/Ayal Margolin)

He said: "President Donald Trump... recently recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. He is the first international leader to have done so.

"We are proud that we have this opportunity to establish the community and also honor a great friend."

However, opposition politicians criticised the move and the ceremony.

In comments quoted by Haaretz, Zvi Hauser said: “Anyone who reads the fine print of the ‘historic’ decision understands that this is a conceptual decision.

"There is no funding. There is no planning. There is no location and there is really no committed decision."

The Reuters news agency reports that a cabinet memo from last week revealed that the project lacked dedicated funds, as well as final approval for its precise location and name.

President Trump, however, said the Israeli government's move was a 'great honour':

Yesterday's announcement comes as Israeli politicians continue to prepare for the second general election of the year.

Voters will go to the polls again in September, after Mr Netanyahu failed to form a ruling coalition following April's election.

Main image: Israeli workers install a sign reading "Trump Heights" in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights. Picture by: Xinhua/JINI/Ayal Margolin/PA Images

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