Dutch city to remove Palestine from Jerusalem, Tiberias street signs

(JTA) — A Dutch city that described several Israeli cities, including Jerusalem and Tiberias, as situated in Palestine has agreed to remove the description.

A spokesman for Eindhoven, in the eastern Netherlands, said Monday that the city would remove the designation pertaining to street signs named for the biblical cities.

City officials argued that the description pertained to historical or biblical Palestine and “were in no way meant to express a political standpoint or to offend.” But at the insistence of Likoed Nederland, a local association supportive of Israel’s Likud ruling party, the city ultimately agreed to remove the reference to Palestine, the association said Monday on its website.

The announcement quoted a letter by a Eindhoven municipal spokesman, who said, “I am able to inform you that the municipality of Eindhoven has decided to remove the text from the street signs and from the street register.”

Likoed Nederland had reported the description to the media in May, calling it an attempt to “wipe Israel off the map.” The city had printed text on street signs bearing the names of biblical cities and areas that described them as being located in Palestine.

On Saturday, Likoed Nederland accused the Dutch ANP news agency of referring to Israeli territory targeted by rockets from Lebanon as “occupied territory.”

The report concerned rockets fired from Hasbaya in Lebanon that landed in the Galilee, which ANP, citing a Lebanese news agency, said may have been fired “in the direction of territory occupied by Israel.”

The managing editor of ANP’s foreign desk, Bengt van Zwol, told JTA the territory in question was not the Galilee, which his agency does not regard as occupied, but the Golan Heights.

Separately, a state-owned university in Barcelona, Spain, corrected its online course application form amid criticism over its omitting of Israel from a list that contained more than 200 “countries of residence,” including “Palestine Territory” and Antarctica.

Responding to criticism by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a spokesman for the Autonomous University of Barcelona apologized last week and added that “it has been an unfortunate technical mistake, without any political background.” But Shimon Samuels, the center’s director of international relations, said this claim “is of course nonsense, unless the software company is also complicit.”

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