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El Salvador Considers Naming Plaza After Arafat

El Salvador, a country that traditionally fostered excellent relations with Israel, has decided to rename a plaza in honor of the late arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat.
First Publish: 3/9/2005, 6:33 PM / Last Update: 3/9/2005, 8:16 PM

The new “Arafat’s Plaza” in San Salvador will be adjacent to the capital city’s “Jerusalem Plaza.” This despite the fact that El Salvador is one of only two countries in the world to maintain their embassy in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, rather than Tel Aviv.

Israeli Ambassador to El Salvador Jonathan Peled officially protested the decision, condemning the honor accorded the PLO chief in several local newspapers and local TV channels.

The Municipal Council of El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador, responded to Peled’s statements by harshly criticizing Israel for interfering in its local affairs. The body decided to write an official letter to the Israeli ambassador demanding he apologize for his statements.

Peled told the Israeli Maariv newspaper that the embassy has received many letters supporting its position from local figures, even from a union of lawyers who want to sue the Municipality of San Salvador for changing the current name of the plaza, to Arafat's Plaza.

Maariv also reported that the Salvadorian Minister of Public Works recently promised the Israeli ambassador to work on convincing the municipality not to change the plaza's name.

The president of El Salvador, elected last year, was born in Bethlehem before immigrating with his family to Central America. The decision to name the plaza after Arafat, however, was made on the local level and supported by the mayor of San Alvador, whose part is considered the most radical leftist party in the country.