Palestinians to name occupied West Bank street after Jewish man

Al Bireh will name a street after Ilan Halevi, a late Jewish member of Fatah

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas chairs a session of the weekly cabinet meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank April 29, 2019. Majdi Mohammed/Pool via REUTERS
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The Palestinians are set to honour a late Jewish man who identified with their cause with a new street named after him in an occupied West Bank city.

The move, instigated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, will rename a street in the city of Al Bireh after Ilan Halevi.

He is a late member of the Fatah party, the faction of Mr Abbas that remains at loggerheads with the rulers of Gaza, Hamas.

Halevi was born in France but moved to Israel in adulthood. After the 1967 Arab-Israeli War in which Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, he decided to join Fatah. He had been a member of left-wing Israeli groups before his move.

Halevi once worked for the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and described himself as “one-hundred percent Jewish and one-hundred percent Palestinian,” according to Israeli media reports.

A statement posted on the Facebook page of the Al Bireh Municipality said the decision was passed down from Mr Abbas by his senior adviser Nabil Shaath.

It called Halevi a man “who was committed to defending the Palestinian issue and Fatah without hesitation,” the statement said.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee, wrote on Twitter that the decision was “a tribute to a person of courage and principle. In recognition & loyalty”.

Israel’s government is yet to comment on the Palestinian decision to name a street after a Jewish man. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers regularly refer to the Palestinians and their leadership as anti-Semites.

Palestinians have carried out a series of attacks against Israelis in recent years but the leadership attributes this attacks to Israel’s 60-year occupation of the West Bank and its ongoing settlement enterprise, which has been chipping away at any hope of a sovereign Palestinian state.

Halevi died in 2013 at the age of 69 and was awarded the Palestinian Medal of Distinction by Mr Abbas in the same year for “his role in support of the Palestinian struggle”.