Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Is the international community finally catching on regarding Palestinian incitement?

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Shmuel Levin

 

Israeli officials have long argued that the Palestinian Authority should be held accountable for its incitement to violence against Israelis.

As AIJAC has previously documented, this ranges from supporting violence through videos, cartoons, blogs and posts on social media, explicit statements from the Palestinian leadership in support of violence, and school textbooks that legitimate political violence.

It seems that now, finally, the international community may be starting to catch on.

Standing next to US President Donald Trump in Washington last month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared: "Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace."

But, only days after Abbas had declared his "culture of peace", the Palestinian Authority named a women's centre in the West Bank after a female terrorist who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre that killed 37 people.

This women's centre had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from Denmark and Norway.

However, in a new development, both Denmark and Norway have now demanded the return of their moneys.

As reported by the Jerusalem Post, Norway's Foreign Minister Borge Brende issued a sharp statement about the centre:

"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."

According to Brende, Norway asked that its logo be immediately removed from the building, and that "funding that has been allocated to the center be repaid."

Brende also stated that Norway "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".

Like Norway, Denmark has also demanded the return of $500,000 it gave for projects by the Women's Technical Affairs Committee (‘WATC') who were responsible for the women's centre.

In an official statement, Anders Samuelsen, the Danish Foreign Minister, said:

"I am outraged that the WATC, which claims to work for human rights, has not only glorified a terrorist but also abused the trust of a generous people like the Danish... It is completely unacceptable and I can't distance myself strongly enough from it. Denmark and Danish tax kroner must under no circumstances be used for anything that glorifies or promotes terrorists in any way. Therefore, we will now also demand that the WATC return the Danish aid."

In fact, even the United Nations has pulled support for the women's centre. A statement from Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said:

"The United Nations disassociated itself from the Centre once it learned the offensive name chosen for it and will take measures to ensure that such incidents do not take place in the future."

Notwithstanding all of this, the Palestinian Authority has dug in its heels. Sami Daghlas - the chairman of the community center - said he would rather shut it down than change its name.

Moreover, as reported by The Algemeiner, the Palestinian Authority has even criticised the UN Secretary-General for expressing his disapproval of the centre.

According to the Palestinian Authority, Guterres' comments were a "troubling signal of changes that have been taking place recently in the functioning and language of the UN" and the Palestinian Authority called on the UN "to stop expressing the surprising and unacceptable positions and statements that the UN Secretary-General ‘s office made regarding the women's centre in the village of Burqa, in the Nablus district, on the pretext that it bears the name of Martyr (Shahida) Dalal Mughrabi."

The US Administration is also reportedly aware of this issue. During Trump's meeting with Abbas in Bethlehem a few weeks after Abbas made his comments about a "culture of peace", Trump reportedly yelled at Abbas: "You lied to me in Washington when you talked about commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me you were personally responsible for incitement".

For those who follow this issue, incitement from the Palestinian Authority is nothing new. It has long been pointed to as an important barrier to peacemaking, because it promotes violence, and makes compromise by Palestinian leaders appear to be a betrayal. But it may be a positive sign that the international community is finally starting to catch on to the seriousness of the problem.