TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed Saturday that “no street in the State of Israel will be named after Yasser Arafat,” when it was discovered through the navigation app Waze that an Arab-Israeli village in Israel’s north had named a road for the late Palestinian leader.
On his Facebook page, Netanyahu said the issue was brought to his attention through the complaints of wounded IDF veterans who discovered it while using Waze. Netanyahu promised “we will work to remove the sign” in the village of Jatt.
The veterans complained to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) who in turn informed the prime minister that his ministry did not approve the decision to name the street after Arafat, who is considered by many in Israel to be a terrorist.
Muhammad Tahar Wattad, head of the Jatt regional council, claimed that he was not aware of the street, Channel 2 reported. However, Wattad added that there should be no issue with it, since Arafat met with several Israeli prime ministers, including Netanyahu himself during his first tenure as prime minister from 1996-1999.
“From our perspective, [Arafat] is the official leader of the Palestinian people, with Israel recognizing him as a partner for [peace] negotiations,” he said. “Therefore there is no legal, social or moral prohibition in naming a street after him.”
Wattad also said that “whoever calls [Arafat] a mass murderer should take responsibility for his words.”
Arafat is still revered in Palestinian society, where he is known as Abu Ammar. Arafat turned down Israel’s unprecedented offer of a peace deal at the 2000 Camp David negotiations, which proposed giving the Palestinians 96 percent of the West Bank. Instead, under Arafat, the Second Intifada kicked off with hundreds of suicide bomb attacks for the next half decade.
Arafat died at the age of 75 on November 11, 2004 just outside Paris. To this day, Palestinian officials continue to blame Israel for poisoning the PLO leader even though independent forensic teams have proved otherwise.