Italian Jewish leaders object to honorary citizenship for Abbas

(JTA) – Italian Jewish leaders are angry that the mayor of Naples granted honorary citizenship to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.


Mayor Luigi de Magistris named Abbas an honorary citizen at a ceremony in Naples on Saturday.

In December, when city authorities said they would offer honorary citizenship to Abbas, Naples Chief Rabbi Scialom Bahbout had protested plans to grant him the honor. ”The same recognition should also be guaranteed to Israeli president and Nobel peace prize winner Shimon Peres,” he wrote in an open letter to Il Mattino newspaper.

The ANSA news agency reported that Abbas said at Saturday’s ceremony that he was “honored to be Neapolitan.”

“We know that Italy is pushing the peace process and the United States is determined. Israel should take this inviting opportunity,” Abbas said, according to ANSA.  He added, “There may not be similar opportunities in the future. We are working for this. For a real peace so that Israel can live in security too.” 

Peres will be visiting Italy starting Monday. During his stay he will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican and at Assisi he will receive the Medal of Honor for Peace and the key to that city. He also is scheduled to hold talks with Italian leaders.

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