Two Tel Aviv Streets Named for Arab Personalities

The Tel Aviv Municipality's Committee on Street Names approved yesterday naming two streets in Jaffa after Arab personalities. Sheikh Bassam Abu Zeid will be commemorated in the naming of a square at the edge of Yehuda Hayamit Street, near Jaffa's port, and Ya'akub George Hananiya, who had served as the chairman of the Orthodox Association in the city for many decades, will have a street in the neighborhood of Ajami, currently known only by a number, named after him.

The decision will be brought for approval by the Tel Aviv Municipal Council.

The issue of naming a street after Sheikh Abu Zeid, who died two years ago and had served until his death as the Imam of the main mosque in the city - the Mahmoudiye - had been part of a public struggle last year which left many in Jaffa disappointed. At the time, supporters of naming the street close to where the Sheikh lived after him were unhappy when the municipality decided instead to name it after two of Tel Aviv's founders: Shmuel and Sultana Tajir. Arab city residents protested and their representative in the municipality, Ahmed Mashrawi (Meretz ), resigned in protest.

The committee argued at the time that it was not possible to commemorate the Sheikh by naming the street after him because he had died less than two years prior to the decision to actually name the street - which ran contrary to the regulations.

To date there are only seven streets in Jaffa named after Arabs. Meanwhile there are six more streets about whom a decision was made more than three years ago to name after Arabs. Mail from government authorities is already being sent to people living on those streets under their new Arab names, but the municipality says it will only become official at a ceremony scheduled in 2011.