Netanyahu vows to remove Arafat street sign in Arab village
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Netanyahu vows to remove Arafat street sign in Arab village

Following complaints by injured IDF veterans, PM says no road in Israel will bear ex-PLO leader’s name

A picture taken on November 9, 2016 shows a large printed photograph of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat hanging outside a door leading to a recreation of the small bedroom where he spent his final years at the new Arafat Museum in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
A picture taken on November 9, 2016 shows a large printed photograph of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat hanging outside a door leading to a recreation of the small bedroom where he spent his final years at the new Arafat Museum in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday he will seek the removal of a street sign in the northern Israeli-Arab village of Jatt bearing the name of former Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

In a post on his Facebook page, Netanyahu said the issue was brought to his attention following the complaints of wounded IDF veterans.

“No street in the State of Israel will be named after Yasser Arafat,” Netanyahu wrote, adding that “we will work to remove the sign.”

Netanyahu also said he discussed the issue with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas), who told him the Interior Ministry did not approve the decision to name the street after Arafat, as is required for all street names.

The street name first garnered attention after a group of wounded IDF veterans asked Deri to address the issue, after learning of its existence through the navigation application Waze, according to Channel 2.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US envoy Dennis Ross, and Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat clasp hands after initialing an agreement on the partial withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank after a meeting at Gaza's Erez Crossing, Wednesday, Jan 15, 1997. (photo credit: AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US envoy Dennis Ross, and Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat clasp hands after initialing an agreement on the partial withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank after a meeting at Gaza’s Erez Crossing, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 1997. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Muhammad Tahar Wattad, head of the Jatt regional council, told Channel 2 earlier this week that while he did not know of the street’s existence, he did not see any problem with naming it for Arafat, as numerous Israeli prime ministers had met with the former PLO leader, including Netanyahu himself during his first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999.

“From our perspective [Arafat] is the official leader of the Palestinian people, with Israel recognizing him as a partner for [peace] negotiations,” he said, while adding “therefore there is no legal, social or moral prohibition in naming a street after him.”

Wattad also said that “whoever calls [Arafat] a mass murder should take responsibility for his words.”

Arafat, who died in 2004, remains a venerated figure among Palestinians, but is seen by many in Israel as an unreformed terrorist who doomed the 2000 Camp David peace talks, orchestrated the suicide bombing onslaught of the Second Intifada that followed, and disseminated a still-prevailing narrative among Palestinians that denies Jews’ history and legitimacy in the Holy Land.

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