Jerusalem Mayor Nixes Decision to Name Plaza After Sara Netanyahu's Father

The city's legal advisor told the committee to cancel the discussion given how close it was scheduled to the municipal elections, but the meeting was held anyway

Shmuel Ben Artzi and Sara Netanyahu in 2010.
Olivier Fitoussi

The Jerusalem municipality's naming committee decided Tuesday to name a plaza after Shmuel Ben Artzi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's father-in-law, despite the city's legal advisor order to cancel the discussion given how close it was scheduled to the municipal elections.

Despite the legal advisor Eli Malka's directive, the committee members decided to hold the discussion anyway. Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat ordered to freeze the decision after it was published in the media.

The municipality said that "given how soon the elections are slated for, and given the worry over political campaigning, the legal advisor ordered the discussion to be postponed. Yael Antebi, the naming committee head, decided on her own to hold the meeting despite the legal advisor's decision. Therefore, the decisions reached in it are not valid."

Antebi had earlier said that "Eli Malka is an advisor, his job is to advise not to make decisions. He suggested, two days before the meeting was held, that it be canceled. It didn't seem to me to be fair towards those we are commemorating and their families who have been waiting for this meeting to cancel it, thereofre I held the meeting, together with four other members."

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Jerusalem sites named after Netanyahu's family

Ben Artzi's name was added to the list of recommended names in 2015, by virtue of his occupation as author, poet and teacher. The plaza that will bear his name, located in the area of the ministerial offices, Kiryat Le'om, was chosen yesterday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's father Benzion Netanyahu has not been neglected: an intersection in Jerusalem was named for him some years ago. At the time, Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat expedited the process of choosing names. Also, in contrast to the norm, the Jerusalem municipality agreed to use the father's truncated Benzion rather than his full name Ben Zion.

Benjamin Netanyahu's brother, Yoni, has a street and a square named after him in Jerusalem, and Netanyahu's grandfather, Nathan Milikowsky, has a Jerusalem square named after him as well. 

Ben Artzi's name was placed on a list that had already been approved, but was held until a location was found.

Another political parent to be commemorated is Tzipi Livni's mother, Sara Livni, after whom a street in Kiryat Le'om will be named.

The committee also approved naming streets in Jerusalem after the minister Uri Orbach (the street will be in Mordot Messuah); the industrialist Danny Angel who co-owns Angel Bakeries (Har Hahotzvim); Rabbi Leon Ashkenazi, among the French Jewish leaders (Homat Shmuel); and Bracha Kapah, whose name will be added to the street named after her husband Rabbi Joseph Kapah.

Though artists Menashe Kadishman, famous for multiple paintings of sheep and an Israel Prize laureate, and artist David Soussana have been added to the list, locations haven't been chosen yet.