(photo credit: REUTERS)
A small French town is making a big statement after voting this week to name a new street after late PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
In La Seyne-sur-mer, an hour's drive from Marseilles, a majority vote was garnered to name a road in the city's Berthe quarter after Arafat, according to French Nice-Matin news.
During deliberations before the vote, some were voiced their opposition to the road naming, saying it the name be honoring a terrorist, but in the end, a majority voted in favor of Yasser Arafat Street.
Mayor Marc Vuillemot said that the decision for the street naming up to residents. He added that he was confounded by the controversy altogether.
"There is a Yitzhak Rabin Street in the quarter already. My understanding is that the two men received the Nobel Peace Prize together! I am not going to be the decider of who was the greater person."
Arafat led the Palestine Liberation Organization for 35 years and became the first president of the Palestinian Authority in 1996. He fell violently ill in October 2004 and died two weeks later, at the age of 75, in a Paris military hospital.
The medical report published after Arafat’s death listed the immediate cause as a massive brain hemorrhage resulting from an infection. Doctors ruled out foul play; some had contended that Arafat died of AIDS.
Many Palestinians continue to believe that Arafat was poisoned by Israel because he was an obstacle to peace. Israel has denied any involvement.JTA contributed to this report.