The Slatest

Israel’s Netanyahu Names Golan Heights Settlement After Trump (But It’s Really Just a Sign)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech before the newly-unveiled sign for the new settlement of "Ramat Trump", or "Trump Heights" on June 16, 2019.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech before the newly-unveiled sign for the new settlement of “Ramat Trump”, or “Trump Heights” on June 16, 2019. JALAA MAREY/Getty Images

President Donald Trump likes to have his name on things. And now he can add another one to the roster: a tiny Israeli settlement in the Golan Heights. The fact that it doesn’t actually exist seems to be incidental as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated what the opposition criticized as a PR stunt. Netanyahu took his Cabinet to the Golan Heights Sunday, where, alongside U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, he unveiled the sign for a town called “Ramat Trump,” or “Trump Heights.” The move was meant as a gesture of appreciation for Trump and his move to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory.

Despite the big, gold-trimmed sign that is decorated with both Israeli and U.S. flags and planted on synthetic grass there isn’t actually a new community named after Trump. Netanyahu is trying to rename an existing settlement, that is home to a tiny, aging community as a way to attract new residents. But it’s all in the very early planning stages yet and there is little sign it will become a reality in the near future considering Netanyahu’s political woes at home. Haaretz explains:

The proposal put before the cabinet to found the new community includes no real steps toward its establishment. It’s mainly “administrative work,” which in Israeli speak means barely a single meeting around a plate of carbs. Numerous other expressions from the very creative “Israbluff” lexicon appear there in full force: “Formulating recommendations,” “examining a variety of aspects,” “submitting opinions,” “the government notes,” and so on and so forth.

There’s just one sentence at the end that reveals the deceit: “When the final government decision is made on the establishment of the community, and insofar as the location of the new town will be in the area of the community of Kela…” There it is. Indeed, no such final decision was made, and it’s unclear if after the sign’s installation such a community will ever be established, or will remain a celestial “Trump Heights” – a mythological town that exists only in the imagination.

That didn’t stop the celebrations though. “It’s absolutely beautiful,” Friedman said, adding that Trump celebrated his birthday Friday. “I can’t think of a more appropriate and a more beautiful birthday present.” Trump retweeted photos that Friedman posted of the ceremony and thanked Netanyahu “and the State of Israel for this great honor!”