Roundup: Palestinians condemn Israeli decision to change Arab towns ' names

09:43, July 05, 2011      

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by Emad Drimly, Saud Abu Ramadan

The Israeli government's decision to change the names of the Arab towns in Israel into Hebrew names on Monday outraged the Palestinians, who considered the Israeli decision "a raciest measure."

Ahmed Majdalani, a member in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, told Xinhua that the decision "is proving that this Israeli government is the most fascist and raciest one," adding that Israel "is violating the international laws and conventions."

"The Israeli government has a program to change the nature and the characteristics of the Palestinian towns and villages into Jewish as part of Israelizing and forging the history," said Majdalani, adding that this coincides with ongoing Israeli plans of settlement and land confiscation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted earlier Monday to his government's establishments to start preparing new Hebrew names for the Arab towns and villages in Israel.

Israeli sources said a governmental committee was founded to approve the text of the town names.

The committee would also approve Hebrew names on the stands and signs at the crossroads in Israel, as well as signs at the archeological sites all over Israel. It wasn't clear if any part of the occupied Palestinian territories will be included.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party called on the Palestinian Arabs who live in Israel and hold Israeli citizenship to protect the Arab names of the towns and villages, not only in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but also in Israel and at religious and archeological sites.

Osama al-Qawasmeh, Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, said "the Israeli plans are aiming at turning the Arab and Palestinian towns and villages as well as the Islamic and Christian religious sites into Jewish by deciding to use signs of the names of these places in Hebrew."

Such attempts "are showing Israel's ignorance of the international laws and conventions and also showing that Israel is a state that is not interested in peace and settlement in the region," he said, "it insists on the style and manner of occupation and its raciest policy."

The spokesman warned of "such Israeli policies that would lead the whole region to more chaos and violence by violating all the red lines and violating the holy sites of the Moslems, the Arabs and the Palestinians as well as the Palestinian cultural and social heritage."

Israeli media reports had earlier said that the Israeli decision aims at Judaizing the names of the towns and villages in the Arab and Palestinian areas in Israel. The name of Jerusalem will be written in English or Hebrew instead of its Arabic name al- Quds.

Netanyahu's office said in an official statement published by the Ramallah-based al-Ayyam Daily that the plan aims to facilitate the reading of the names on the signs and maps. The new spelling will be copy translation from Hebrew to Latin and from Arabic to Hebrew.

The Islamic movement of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, said in a press statement emailed to reporters that the Israeli plan to change the names of Arab and Islamic villages into Hebrew names " expresses the stubbornness of Zionists, which won't change the historic and cultural reality."

Mushi al-Masri, a senior Hamas leader said in the statement that changing the names of the towns and villages as well as demolishing the Arab and Islamic graves and erasing the Islamic and Arab characteristics "is signifying that there is a Zionist plan to Judaizing the city of Jerusalem."

The less-influential Islamic Jihad (Holy War) movement said in a press statement that it would name the summer camps in the Gaza Strip it sponsors and runs after the names of the Arab towns and villages to challenge the Israeli decision.

"Israel would no longer succeed in hiding the reality or the Arab and Islamic identities of the region and change the Arab towns and villages in the land of Palestine," said the movement, " the Israeli decision is raciest and the Zionists are forging the history."

Source: Xinhua
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