Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet convened in this hamlet Sunday to announce the inauguration of a new settlement named after President Donald Trump, who acknowledged Israel's rule over the Golan in April, shortly after the recognition was signed in Washington.
"It's absolutely beautiful," said U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, who attended Sunday's ceremony. Noting that Trump celebrated his birthday on Friday, he said: "I can't think of a more appropriate and a more beautiful birthday present."
"Few things are more important to the security of the state of Israel than permanent sovereignty over the Golan Heights," Friedman said. "It is simply obvious, it is indisputable and beyond any reasonable debate."
Addressing the ceremony, Netanyahu called Trump a "great friend" of Israel and described the Golan, which overlooks northern Israel, as an important strategic asset.
"The Golan Heights was and will always be an inseparable part of our country and homeland," he said.
The settlement will be known as “Ramat Trump,” or Trump Heights. Israel hopes the community will attract a wave of people to what is currently little more than an isolated outpost - known as Beruchim - with just 10 residents.
The community was established in 1991, by then-housing minister Ariel Sharon, who sent a group of new immigrants from the Soviet Union to live there. It was established near Qela and meant to be a thriving extension of it, but failed to live up to the expectations.
Residents of Qela were outraged about the decision to change their existing community's name, and hung signs protesting the move on their entrance gate, apparently under the impression the entire perimeter of Qela and Beruchim will become the new Trump community.
However, it was later clarified that the new settlement will not replace Qela, but rather built on top of Beruchim; a draft plan already exists and offers 110 new homes be built in Beruchim, that will house both religious and secular residents.
Rosa Zhernakov, a resident of Bruchim since 1991, said the community was excited by Sunday's decision.
"We hope it will benefit the Golan Heights," she said, standing outside her bungalow on one of Bruchim's few streets. She said the revitalization of the settlement will mean "more security" for residents from any possible return of the Golan Heights to Syria as part of a future peace treaty.
Vladimir Belotserkovsky , 75, another veteran resident, said he welcomed any move to build up the settlement. "We certainly thank, and I personally, am satisfied by the fact that they're founding the new settlement named for Trump," he said.
Zvi Hauser, an opposition lawmaker who formerly served as Netanyahu's cabinet secretary, called Sunday's ceremony a cheap PR stunt. "There's no funding, no planning, no location, and there's no real binding decision," he said.