Jun 16, 2019

Israel's Netanyahu inaugurates non-existent 'Trump Heights' town in the Golan

Netanyahu gives a speech before the newly-unveiled sign for the new settlement of "Ramat Trump", or "Trump Heights." Photo: JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman hosted a special ceremony Sunday to dedicate a new town in the Golan Heights called "Ramat Trump," or "Trump Heights" in English. The only problem is that for now, this is only a "paper town," meaning it does not yet exist and is not even in planning stages.

Why it matters: This is a public relations stunt meant for a domestic audience on the eve of the upcoming elections. It's also significant for foreign policy reasons, intended for a target audience of one — President Trump. Trump's recognition of the Golan Heights in March gave a dramatic boost to Netanyahu's election campaign. Netanyahu will need Trump's help again soon with the new September 17 elections looming.

Details: Netanyahu took the whole Israeli cabinet to the Golan Heights today and stated the cabinet will pass a resolution to establish the new town. But the cabinet resolution that passed actually said the government couldn't make a decision like that during an election period.

  • So what was actually decided is that the Ministry of Housing will start preliminary planning work. For now, there is not even a fund allocated to build the new town.
  • But what Netanyahu and his people did do was place a huge sign with the name of the new town in the spot the town might be located sometime in the future. Netanyahu and Ambassador Friedman unveiled the sign in front of the cameras and praised Trump.

It did the trick. Several hours later, Trump tweeted: "Thank you Prime Minister Netanyahu and the state of Israel for this great honor."

Go deeper: Countries around the world criticize Trump's Golan announcement

Go deeper

Trump touts press briefing "ratings" as U.S. coronavirus case surge

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.

World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 47 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 704,095 — Total deaths: 33,509 — Total recoveries: 148,824.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 132,637 — Total deaths: 2,351 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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