More than 30 streets in Eastern Jerusalem, a predominantly Arab area in the holy city, have received new street names pertaining to the Torah -- a measure approved by the city council Sunday that has outraged the neighborhood, according to the Jewish Press. The decision comes as Jerusalem faces some of the most serious outbreaks of violence in years as major Jewish and Muslim holidays coincide.
The violent clashes are centered around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, one of the holiest sites, where on the eve of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashana, Palestinians convened to throw rocks and firebombs at police.
Some see the new names as part of "ongoing attempts to judaize Al-Quds and falsify history" that only add tension to relations between the two groups in the Palestinian district, Ahmad Tibi, an Arab-Muslim Israeli member of parliament, told the Walla news site. “Someone decided to add more fuel to the fire of tension in Jerusalem."
The streets were named as part of a project to map out hundreds of them in East Jerusalem, 800 of which received Arabic names, according to city hall. The streets approved for Hebrew names are in areas with Jewish historical sites, the Times of Israel reported.
But even some state lawmakers have advised against the new street names. Former Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel said that he recommended that the council reconsider "whether it is appropriate, at this point in time, and in light of the complicated and delicate situation in East Jerusalem," referring to the recent clashes. Turkel heads the advisory committee leading the renaming project.
Other lawmakers supported city hall's decision. "I welcome the move. I’ve never heard from those who are opposed to it when would be a good time for the process of a Jewish connection to Jerusalem,” Yinon Magal, an Israeli parliament member, said.
Jlem Municipality puts settlement over security/stability, giving 30 streets in Palestinian areas Hebrew names | http://t.co/Wt5abTMo7R
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Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said she was in favor of the move because the new names will help assert Israel's claim to the city.
“There’s a war on sovereignty in Jerusalem as well as on the historical identity of the city,” she said. “Every action that strengthens Israel’s sovereignty in the capital of the Jewish people is welcome. The Palestinians have been trying all along to uproot the historical foundation of the Jewish people in general and particularly in the eastern neighborhoods. The municipality’s decision is an important step in the struggle over historical symbols of the Jewish nation belonging to its eternal capital.”
The new names are planned for the neighborhood of Silwan. Some of the names have a messianic connotation, such as Me’arat Ha’Nevi’im, which translates to Cave of the Prophets, and Kidmat Zion, which means East to Zion.