TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump on Sunday thanked Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for naming a new town after him on the Golan Heights.
Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu inaugurated “Trump Heights” in recognition of the U.S. president’s formal recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan.
At the ceremony, Netanyahu also said that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and his support in the fight against a nuclearized Iran proved him to be a “true friend” of Israel.
Responding on Twitter, Trump said: “Thank you PM @Netanyahu and the State of Israel for this great honor!”
He retweeted a post by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who accompanied Netanyahu at the inauguration.
Friedman described it as “a great day on the Golan.”
“PM Netanyahu and I had the honor to dedicate “Trump Heights” — first time Israel has dedicated a village in honor of a sitting president since Harry Truman (1949). Happy Birthday Mr. President!!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2019
Earlier on Sunday, the cabinet held its weekly meeting in the Golan town of Kela Alon to formally approve the new community named for Trump.
Friedman also thanked Netanyahu for the “extraordinary gesture.”
“It is well-deserved, but much appreciated. We look forward to working with you and with the Government of Israel to continue to strengthen the unbreakable alliance between the United States and Israel.”
Later, Friedman lauded Trump as an Israeli hero.
“We all checked the history book … it almost never happens anywhere in the world that an entire community is dedicated in the name of a sitting president,” he said.
“President Trump will be honored to be in that small cadre of Israeli heroes,” he added.
“My only regret is that neither the president nor I are in the real estate business any more, because if we were, I’m sure this would be high on our list for places that we would think about developing.”
Trump’s March decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights came in the wake of what he said were “aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, in southern Syria [that made] the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks on Israel.”
In April, Netanyahu vowed to name a community in Trump’s honor.
“All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu said at the time.
“I intend to bring to the government a resolution calling for a new community on the Golan Heights named after President Donald J. Trump.”
However, Sunday’s inauguration was slammed by critics as little more than a publicity stunt.
“What does a successful PR campaign look like? Exactly like this,” Blue and White MK Zvi Hauser said.
“Anyone who reads the fine print in this ‘historic decision’ will understand that it is nothing more than a non-binding fake policy. There is no budgeting, no planning, no location for settlement, and there is not really a binding decision to implement the project. But the main thing was that they insisted on deciding on a name for the dummy community,” he added.