Middle East

Israel Arafat street sign dropped after Netanyahu anger

arafat Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption The sign had been up for nine years, Jatt officials said

An Israeli Arab town has dropped the name of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from one of its streets after Israel's prime minister objected.

The village of Jatt, in the north of the country, removed the sign, officials said.

On Saturday Benjamin Netanyahu said streets in Israel could not be "named after murderers of Israelis and Jews".

Many Palestinians see Arafat as an icon in their fight for a state but many Israelis view him as a terrorist.

Mohammed Watad from Jatt council told Israeli TV that the sign had been up for nine years.

Image copyright Israel PM Twitter account

Israeli Arab MP Ayman Odeh criticised the decision to remove the name.

"It is completely your right to say 'I am completely against this man'," he said, but added that Israel also named streets after controversial figures.

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

Arafat led the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) for 35 years. The movement was sworn to Israel's destruction and carried out many deadly attacks.

Arafat later renounced violence and won the Nobel peace prize jointly with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in 1994 for agreeing Israel-Palestinian peace accords.

However many Israelis held him responsible for attacks by Palestinian militants from areas under his control during the second Palestinian intifada (uprising) which began in 2000.

Arafat was Palestinian president from 1994-2004, when he fell ill in his compound in Ramallah. He died in hospital in France weeks later, aged 75.

Although Arabs make up about 20% of Israel's population, many of them identify politically and culturally with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.