In a move initiated by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, al-Bireh Municipality in the central West Bank announced that it has decided to name a street after Ilan Halevi, a late Jewish member of Fatah.
Halevi, who was born in Nazi-occupied Lyon, France but moved to Israel in his twenties, died in 2013 at 69. He was a member of leftist and anti-Zionist groups in Israel before he joined Fatah following the 1967 Six-Day War.
Halevi also served in the PA Foreign Ministry, participated in the Madrid Conference in 1991 on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and described himself as “one-hundred percent Jewish and one-hundred percent Palestinian.”
Members of al-Bireh Municipality unanimously supported a proposal to name a street after Halevi, al-Bireh Mayor Azzam Ismail told Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Abbas, according to a statement posted Saturday on the local governing body’s official Facebook page.
Shaath met members of al-Bireh Municipality last Wednesday and presented them with a proposal formulated by Abbas to name one of the town’s streets after Halevi, an individual “who was committed to defending the Palestinian issue and Fatah without hesitation,” the statement said.
Ismail spoke highly of Halevi and said the Palestinians admire Jews who support the Palestinian issue.
“We decided to name the street after the Palestinian Jew Ilan Halevi in appreciation of his support for the Palestinian people’s issues,” he told The Times of Israel, adding, “We respect and appreciate every Jew that stands with the Palestinian people. There are many Jews in Israel and around the world, who support the Palestinian people’s rights and demand a resolution to the Palestinian issue.”
شارك مستشار الرئيس محمود عباس للشؤون الخارجية والتعاون الدولي د.نبيل شعث في جلسة بلدية البيرة الأسبوعية يوم الأربعاء…
Ismail noted that al-Bireh Municipality had yet to choose a specific street to name after Halevi, but he said he hoped it would do so in coordination with Abbas’s office in the next few weeks.
Halevi wrote several books and articles in French criticizing Israel.
Abbas awarded him the Palestinian Medal of Distinction for “his role in support of the Palestinian struggle,” the official PA news site Wafa reported in 2013.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon declined to comment on al-Bireh Municipality’s decision to name a street after Halevi.
Hanan Ashrawi, a PLO Executive Committee member who worked with Halevi, praised the move.
“It’s a sign of recognition, appreciation and gratitude. I think it is apt that a street be named after him,” Ashrawi said in a phone call. “He was one of the few who maintained his commitment to Palestine. To us, it’s not somebody’s religion that is important, but a commitment to a national struggle and identity.”
Shaath did not respond to a number of phone calls.
Sam Bahour, a Palestinian-American businessman who lives in al-Bireh, said Halevi was one of many persons deserving of recognition for their support of the Palestinian issue.
“There are many people who have given to the struggle. He is one of them,” he said in a phone call. “I think anyone who has made a lifetime effort to achieve Palestinian freedom and independence should be highlighted.”