TEL AVIV – Norway’s foreign minister on Friday slammed the Palestinian Authority for using Norweigian donations to build a women’s center in the West Bank named after a notorious female terrorist responsible for the deaths of 38 Israelis.
“The glorification of terrorist attacks is completely unacceptable, and I deplore this decision in the strongest possible terms. Norway will not allow itself to be associated with institutions that take the names of terrorists in this way. We will not accept the use of Norwegian aid funding for such purposes,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said in a statement.
The women’s center in the West Bank town of Burka was named after Dalal Mughrabi, one of the terrorists behind the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre – arguably the most lethal terror attack in Israel’s history. Mughrabi led several other Fatah terrorists who hijacked a bus on Israel’s Coastal Road and killed 38 civilians, 13 of them children, and wounded over 70. The newly opened center carries the logos of UN Women and the Norwegian Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority.
According to Israeli monitoring group Palestinian Media Watch, which first highlighted the scandal, Reem Hajje, a member of the local village council, noted that the center “will focus especially on the history of the struggle of Martyr Dalal Mughrabi and on presenting it to the youth groups, and that it constitutes the beginning of the launch of enrichment activities regarding the history of the Palestinian struggle.”
Norwegian Foreign Minister Brende said he was not informed that the center would be named after Mughrabi and demanded that all funds provided by Norway be returned and the plaque with the country’s name taken down.
“We have asked for the logo of the Norwegian representation office to be removed from the building immediately and for the funding that has been allocated to the center be repaid,” he said, adding that his country would no longer fund similar initiatives until it can ensure the problem will not be repeated.
“We will not enter into any new agreements with either the Palestinian Election Commission or UN Women in Palestinian areas until satisfactory procedures are in place to ensure that nothing of this nature happens again,” he said.
The UN also criticized the name of the center, but said it had cut funding well before it was opened.
“The United Nations support for this center ended last year,” said Robert Piper, UN Assistant Secretary General for Development, in a statement from Jerusalem. “The inauguration of the center took place a few weeks ago, well after the UN association with it concluded. The name chosen by the community center is wrong and unacceptable. The UN Women logo should not be associated with it and it will be removed immediately.”
While Piper did not specifically mention terrorism, the Norwegian statement was more forthright in that regard.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon commended Norway’s move, saying the country “took the right step — a tough line against memorializing terrorists is an integral part of the international effort to eliminate terror. We recommend that the international community take thorough steps to check where the money it invests in the PA is going.”
Norway, alongside several other European countries, provides millions of euros each year to Palestinian NGOs that are often found to promote incitement to terror.