Arab MK defends street in honor of 'symbol' Arafat

Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh defends naming a street after former PA chairman.

Elad Benari ,

Ayman Odeh
Ayman Odeh
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List party, on Monday defended naming a street in northern Israel after former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed to remove it.

The Arab Israeli town of Jatt inaugurated Yasser Arafat Street in honor of Arafat, who was responsible for the deaths of many Israelis in terrorist attacks but who is viewed by many Palestinian Arabs as a hero.

On Saturday night, Netanyahu said he would not allow a street to be named after Arafat. On Sunday, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) sent a letter to the Jatt Regional Council ordering them to remove the sign naming the street after Arafat within 48 hours.

Wounded IDF combat soldier Liran Baruch last week discovered the street after Waze showed it on a map of the region.

Odeh on Monday claimed Arafat was a "symbol".

"He is a leader of the national liberation movement and he chose peace and negotiations and he won the Nobel Peace Prize," Odeh told journalists, according to AFP.

"It is completely your right to say 'I am completely against this man'," he added, but said streets in Jewish neighborhoods had sometimes been named after far-right politicians and even assailants.

"I cannot accept this is OK but calling a street after Yasser Arafat is not OK," said Odeh.

Odeh has in the past eulogized Arafat and slammed the existence of the State of Israel in whose parliament he serves, calling it the “occupation of the lands of 1948.”

He also rejected the label “Israeli Arab,” claiming that Jews had invented the term in an effort to erase “Palestinian Arab” identity.

In October, he announced he would not attend the funeral of former President Shimon Peres, but then chose to visit archterrorist Marwan Barghouti in prison

Last April, speaking at the Palestine House in Toronto, Odeh praised Barghouti as “a great fighter and a model of endurance and patience. Despite long years of captivity, he is lofty and has optimism, a capability of conducting analysis, and a clear political vision which liberals lack.”.