Palestinian Authority capital Ramallah to name street after Fidel Castro

Marcus Moraes

(JTA) — The municipality of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, will dedicate a street to the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro as a “gesture of gratitude.”

“Castro bravely faced the world, the Palestinian people admire and love him,” said a statement from the Palestinian Authority, according to the Latin American Jewish news service Iton Gadol. The decision was made by the city’s Central Council “in recognition of Castro’s support for the Palestinian people and former leader Yasser Arafat.”

Located six miles north of Jerusalem, Ramallah serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority, where Arafat established his headquarters, the Muqata. Historically an Arab-Christian town, Muslims now form the majority of the population.

Castro’s death at the age of 90 was announced on Nov. 25 by his brother, Raul, Cuba’s current president.

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The Fatah party of P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement of mourning, claiming Castro was a “world leader and great friend of the Palestinian people.”

In 1973, Castro suddenly announced the rupture of relations with Israel and declared its recognition of the Palestinian Liberty Organization.

Castro was quoted by the Ecuadorean representative to the United Nations last week in a speech that equated Zionism with Nazism. Israel demanded “clarifications” from Tel Aviv-based Ecuadorean officials.

Under the Castros, Jews in Cuba were extended religious freedoms and received special rations from the government for kosher meat, although the community, like much of the island nation, remains fairly impoverished. Castro, who seized power in 1959, set his country firmly against the Jewish state.

Alan Gross, who was imprisoned for five years in Cuba while trying to assist its Jewish community, said following the death of Castro, “History will never absolve him.”