"This decision comes in the framework of a series of steps in Israel aimed at implementing the 'Jewish State' slogan on the ground," Arab League Deputy Chief Mohammad Sabih was quoted as saying
Wednesday by Egypt's official news agency.
Sabih urged "all international, political, media, and legal institutions to face the racist and dangerous decision with the utmost determination and not recognize any of the changed names of villages and towns."
Earlier this week, Minister Katz defended his decision in no uncertain terms.
"Almost all Israeli communities' names have previous names. Some Palestinian maps still refer to the Israeli cities by their pre-1948 names, since they see them as settlements," he said after unveiling his initiative. "I will not allow that on our signs. This government, and certainly this minister, will not allow anyone to turn Jewish Jerusalem to Palestinian al-Quds."
Katz's initiative was met with fierce criticism in Israel as well. "Al-Quds will remain al-Quds and Shfaram will remain Shefa-'Amr," said MK Ahmad Tibi. "Minister Katz is mistaken if he thinks that changing a few words can erase the existence of the Arab people or their connection to Israel. This is a blatant attempt to undermine the Arabic language and everything it represents."
Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh added that the decision was too far-reaching: "Yisrael Katz is merely the transportation minister and it appears that the power went to his head… I hereby inform him that he cannot change the nature of a place. Yisrael Katz will come and go but Shefa-'Amr is here to stay."