A mayor in the West Bank decided over the weekend to rename a street in his town to protest Bahrain’s hosting of a US-led economic workshop last week.
Ibrahim Abu Zahra, the mayor of Yatta, a town south of Hebron, announced that he decided to change Bahrain Street in his municipality to Marzouq al-Ghanim Street.
Ghanim, the speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, is an outspoken critic of Israel and ardent supporter of the Palestinians.
The conference in Bahrain focused on the economic portion of the American administration’s peace plan, which proposes billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure projects in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and neighboring Arab countries.
The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership fiercely opposed the summit, asserting that its economic focus sought to undermine their aspirations for statehood. They also accused the US of attempting to use the gathering to normalize Israel’s status in the Arab world.
American officials have criticized the Palestinians for refusing to participate in the conference.
An official municipality document said that Abu Zahra decided to rename the street after a number of “citizens and important parties” appealed to him to do so. It also said he made the move to “express appreciation for Kuwait’s position to reject the deal of the century,” employing a term that opponents of the US plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often use sarcastically.
The Kuwaiti National Assembly called on the Kuwaiti government last week to boycott the conference in Manama. The Kuwaiti government, however, did not publicly announce whether it had sent a delegation to the summit.
Other Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sent ministers to the confab.
Abu Zahra said in a phone call that two new signs bearing Ghanim’s name were being created and said they would be unveiled at an official ceremony in the coming days.
“We decided to honor the people in making this move,” Abu Zahra said. “We chose to remove the Bahrain Street sign because Bahrain, in hosting the conference, is now acting like it is a state of the United States.”
Bahrain has faced harsh criticism for hosting the conference from Palestinian officials and Arab social media users.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmad Al Khalifa has defended Bahrain’s decision to host the summit, arguing the Gulf state has always supported efforts to provide “a promising future” for the peoples of the Middle East.