WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's name sits atop buildings, on clothing labels and (for a short time) even on porterhouse steaks. Now, he could have a community in the Middle East named after him.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured the Golan Heights, disputed territory near Israel's northern border that was seized from Syria during the Six Day war in 1967, and applauded Trump's controversial decision last month that the U.S. would recognize Israel's sovereignty over the area.
Netanyahu announced that to reward Trump's decision, he would be introducing a resolution calling for a new community to be named after Trump.
"All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights," Netanyahu said in a video posted on Tuesday. "Therefore, after the Passover holiday, I intend to bring to the government a resolution calling for a new community on the Golan Heights named after President Donald J. Trump."
Trump's announcement was met with critics who said the decision would further inflame tensions in the Middle East and applause from Netanyahu, who is wrapped up in corruption scandal and at the time was in the midst of a bruising re-election campaign. Netanyahu later won his reelection.
Trump made the announcement in a tweet, arguing that the disputed territory is critical to Israel's security. The move overturns decades of U.S. foreign policy and contradicts a United Nations resolution, which calls on Israel to end its occupation of the Golan Heights. Previous U.S. administrations have labeled the territory as "occupied" and declined to recognize Israel's annexation.
"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!" Trump tweeted.
Trump has made a series of policy decisions that favor Israel, most notably moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a city claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians as their capital. At the same time, Trump has also targeted Iran with sanctions for what his administration has claimed is funding of violent and destabilizing activities throughout the Middle East.
Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that it's possible Trump may exist to "save the Jewish people" from what an interviewer called "the Iranian menace."
The statement came during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network where Middle East bureau chief Chris Mitchell referenced the Jewish celebration of Purim, in which adherents commemorate the Jewish people being saved from genocide in Persia, which is modern day Iran.
Mitchell compared Trump to Queen Esther, who saved the Jews, according to The Old Testament story.
"Could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from an Iranian menace?"
"As a Christian, I certainly believe that's possible," Pompeo answered.
Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen and Sean Rossman
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu: I will name community after President Trump