The Palestinian Authority (PA) is dismissing criticism of its decision to name a Ramallah street after notorious Hamas bomb-maker Yahya Ayyash as "absurd."
In an earlier statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the move:
"This is an outrageous glorification of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority. Right next to a Presidential compound in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority has named a street after a terrorist who murdered hundreds of innocent Israeli men, women and children. The world must forcefully condemn this official Palestinian incitement for terrorism and against peace."
Ayyash, known as "The Engineer," was a Hamas arch terrorist and chief bomb maker. He orchestrated the suicide bombing campaign that killed dozens of Israeli civilians from 1994-1996. The PA and Hamas have waged a brutal and bloody power struggle for nearly four years, but that did not stop the PA from glorifying a Hamas icon.
The PA response to Netanyahu compared the street naming to places in Israel named after the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for the historic Camp David peace treaty.
The move would be akin to an American town naming a main thoroughfare after Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. There was outrage when Jewish settlers erected a monument to Baruch Goldstein, who was killed after slaughtering 29 Muslims in a mosque in 1994. Israel razed the shrine in 1999 after legislation banned monuments to terrorists.
The Ayyash naming marks the second time in recent months that the PA glorified a terrorist. In January, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas defended the naming of a square after Dalal Mughrabi, a young terrorist who hijacked a bus and killed 37 in 1978. Abbas' minister of culture, Siham Barghouti of the Fatah party, also defended the move, stating: "Honoring them [the martyrs] this way is the least we can give them, and this is our right."
Palestinian Media Watch Director Itamar Marcus described the effect of such provocation with little US reaction, saying:
"When Hamas is condemned for the terror glorification while it is Abbas and the PA who are guilty, the message to the Palestinian leadership is that they can continue with their incitement to hatred and violence, and no one will call them to account. This message to the Palestinian Authority from the United States, if not immediately rectified, will have devastating implications for peace."