Signpost on the way to Nazareth
Photo: Roni Schutzer
Minister Yisrael Katz
Photo: Yaron Brener
The government discussed Sunday a unified version of the names of all cities, towns, settlements, intersections and historical sites in Israel, when it's transliterated from Hebrew to Roman script, Hebrew to Arabic, Arabic to Hebrew and Arabic to Roman script.
The plan is not controversy-free: While signposts for Arab communities, whose transcription is identical in Hebrew, will remain as is; Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz is planning on changing the transcription in many mixed communities, whose names in Arabic, and sometimes in English, differs from their Hebrew name – to fit the Hebrew version.
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Back in 2009, Katz indicated he intends to change all signposts leading to the holy city, so they say "YERUSHALAYIM" instead of "JERUSALEM." Now it seems the Transportation Ministry has abandoned that idea, but the Arabic caption " أُورشَلِم القـُدْس" (al-Quds) will be changed to sound like "YERUSHALAYIM" using Arabic letters. The same goes for other cities and sites.
Ahead of the government meeting Sunday, Katz clarified his stance has not shifted, despite the anger amongst the Arab community.
Signpost in the way to Jerusalem (Photo: Guy Assayag)
"There are arguments whether Jerusalem is 'al-Quds' or 'Yerushalayim.' The Arabic names of places will remain the same, but Yerushalayim has always been Yerushalayim, and the transcription must be altered accordingly," Katz stated.
Katz believes this issue should be based on Zionist views as well as on those of the Jewish democratic State: "It has meaning when in comes to the cognition, the narrative. There are no Arabic communities who want to have Hebrew names. The Palestinian Authority has ordered to take down signposts with Hebrew captions," he explained.
"This issue hasn't been properly addressed since 1951… It is only right that the Ministerial Committee discuss the draft and determine what the names will be," he added.
Meanwhile, Arab Knesset members are enraged. "Al-Quds will remain al-Quds," said Ahmad Tibi while Jamal Zahalka suggested to replace Katz instead of the signposts.
Minister Benny Begin is expected to head the Ministerial Committee which will be in charge of handling the controversial proposal.
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