The Arab regional council of Jatt, located in the Triangle area of the district of Haifa, announced on Sunday, March 5, that it plans to remove a street sign for Yasser Arafat Street, named after the deceased Palestinian political leader, following a request to do so by the Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri (Shas). The regional council’s decision also followed a statement made by far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who, earlier in the day, promised to have the sign removed.
Netanyahu referred to the street sign in a live Facebook feed. “On Friday, I spoke with Minister Deri, after hearing there was a street in Jatt named after Yasser Arafat. I thought this was unacceptable. It’s inconceivable to have a street inside Israel named after Israel’s enemies, and so I asked Minister Deri to take care of this during today’s government meeting,” Netanyahu said. “He did so and I am informed that the regional council will remove the sign.”
Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) responded, hailing Arafat as the national leader of the Palestinian people, and described him as being intimately tied to Palestinian history. “The Arab minority in Israel has the right to commemorate his memory in its public spaces, including naming streets after him. Arafat led the Palestinian people to an historic reconciliation with Israel under the leadership of Yitzhak Rabin and supported the two-state solution within the 1967 borders,” said Jabareen. “Netanyahu’s opposition to naming a street after him in an Arab settlement reflects Netanyahu’s rejection of the national identity of the Arab minority and of his opposition to any sort of historic reconciliation with the Palestinian people. Netanyahu is leading the two peoples to disaster and is ensuring the continuation of the cycle of violence,” Jabareen concluded.