The Italian city of Palermo has named a square and part of its waterfront promenade after famed Palestinian President Yasser Arafat earlier this week.
The street plaque, which was established and unveiled in the city in the southern island of Sicily, reads “Yasser Arafat (1929-2004) – Nobel Prize for Peace 1994”.
According to the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, the move was promoted by several players including the local Municipality of Palermo, the NGO named Palermo Solidarity Network “With Palestine in the Heart” and the NGO CISS-South Sud International Cooperation.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony on Tuesday, Palermo’s Mayor Leoluca Orlando said that “Palermo in 1996 named a city street for Nobel Prize winner Yitzhak Rabin, killed in 1995,” referring to the former prime minister of Israel who signed the Oslo Accords in 1982, making peace between the Jewish State and the Palestinians. “And today a waterfront square is dedicated to Yasser Arafat, who shared the Nobel Prize with Rabin,” Orlando continued.
“The Oslo Accords were the result of their courage, because the two of them understood that peace can overcome, and does overcome, old hostilities between peoples. It would be important, and I have hope that we can return to the spirit of Oslo, and to lasting peace among peoples,” Orlando added.
This incident of commemorating the former leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) – the predecessor to the Fatah party which runs the Palestinian Authority (PA) – is not the first in which Palermo has shown support to Palestinians and the peace process. In the year 2014, Mayor Orlando awarded the honorary citizenship of Palermo to Marwan Barghouti, who is currently serving life sentences in Israel on charges of alleged terrorism.
Among the attendees of the ceremony was Arafat’s nephew Nasser Al-Kidwa, who is also the chairman of the Yasser Arafat Foundation and a prominent official in the Fatah party and the PA.