Israeli City to Name Square After Moroccan King
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ A square in an Israeli port city will be named after the late Moroccan King Mohammed V, the first Arab leader to be thus honored in Israel, the Itim news agency reported Thursday.
The city council of Ashkelon, a Mediterranean port 30 miles south of Tel Aviv, approved the name by a narrow margin Thursday, the agency said.
Itim said the idea came from Prime Minister Shimon Peres visit in July to Morocco to meet King Hassan II, son of Mohammed V.
It was the first open meeting between an Israeli leader in office and the head of state of an Arab country other than Egypt.
″The king (Mohammed) was a friend of the Jews. He granted them his patronage and saved many of them during World War II,″ Ashkelon’s Moroccan- born mayor Eli Dayan was quoted as saying during the debate in the city council.
One councilman opposed the idea, saying Mohammed V passed information on the Moroccan Jewish community to the French collaborationist Vichy regime and to Nazi Gestapo officials.