A small community in northern Israel named after former U.S. President Donald Trump has become a lodestone for families seeking to build their new home as local authorities report massive demand for land in the nascent hamlet.
Ramat Trump, or Trump Heights, was inaugurated in June 2019 by then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a gesture of gratitude to the American leader for breaking with other world powers to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights where the community is situated.
The volcanic plateau was captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and was later fully annexed by it in a move not recognized by most of the international community.
Israel has long argued that the strategically important area has, for all practical purposes, been fully integrated into Israel since it was captured from Syria and that control of the strategic plateau is needed as protection from Iran and its allies in Syria.
Tens of thousands of Israelis live in the Golan Heights, which is also home to a number of formerly Syrian Druze villages, some of which oppose Israeli control.
The Golan Regional Council is set to launch a land auction for 100 housing units in the community next month and it seems that the COVID-19 crisis, coupled with soaring housing prices nationwide, has led many families to seek new opportunities in the northern territory.
"Before COVID, we received 200 applications a month. Now, we have already reached 3,500 applications per month," said Golan Regional Council head Haim Rokach. "This year, we are taking in 600 families, four times as many as in previous years, and although this auction has not yet been officially announced, the council has already received 1,200 applications from people interested in it in particular."
The community now has several dozen families living in trailers, awaiting permanent housing. This is the second Israeli community named after a U.S. leader with the other being Kfar Truman, named in honor of U.S. president Harry S. Truman, who had supported the establishment of the State of Israel.
Late last year, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that the country intends to double the number of people living in the Golan Heights and reach 100,000 residents by 2025 with a multimillion-dollar plan meant to further consolidate Israel's hold on the territory.