Stone-throwing Palestinians clash with Israeli police in Sur Baher, a village in the suburbs of east Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Since Donald Trump became US president and Antonio Guterres became secretary-general of the United Nations, the world has shown significantly less tolerance for the Palestinian Authority’s glorification of terrorists, a senior diplomatic official said Sunday.
The official’s comments came after the United Nations on Sunday joined Norway in denouncing the naming of a woman’s center in the West Bank after Dalal Mughrabi, a female terrorist who led the 1978 Coastal Road massacre that killed 38 people and wounded many others.
“The glorification of terrorism or the perpetrators of heinous terrorist acts is unacceptable under any circumstances,” read a statement by a representative for UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “The UN has repeatedly called for an end to incitement to violence and hatred as they present one of the obstacles to peace.”
The UN statement was very much in sync with comments Trump made alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Tuesday, when he said that peace “can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded or rewarded.”
That comment came after a reportedly super-charged meeting between Trump and Abbas in which the US president, according to a Channel 2 report, shouted at Abbas that he was duping him. The report was based on an American source familiar with the meeting.
“You deceived me in Washington,” Trump reportedly screamed at Abbas, according to the report. Referring to the meeting they had earlier in the month in Washington, Trump said, “You spoke to me about peace, but the Israelis showed me that you personally have a hand in incitement.”
Trump-Abbas meeting in Washington. (Reuters)
The UN statement came a few hours after Alon Bar, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for the United Nations and International Organizations, spoke with Robert Piper, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities in the territories, and expressed “grave concern” that UN institutions were connected with efforts to glorify terrorists.
The logo of UN Women, an organization that deals with gender equality and the empowerment of women, together with that of the Norwegian Office to the PA appeared on a sign at a women’s center in the West Bank village of Burka that was named after Mughrabi.
Mughrabi was the leader of the Fatah terrorist cell that landed by boat from Lebanon near Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael and went on a murderous spree on the coastal highway, including the hijacking of a bus, that killed 38 people, among them 13 children.
Bar told Piper that Israel expects an explanation for the funding of a center named after a terrorist, and also anticipates immediate UN action to ensure that this will not happen again.
According to the statement put out later by Guterres’s representative, the UN “disassociated itself from the center 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.”
The statement said that the UN asked for the UN Women logo to be immediately removed from the center, and noted that the center’s inauguration took place after the United Nations ended its association with it.
While Israel has objected numerous times in the past to the glorification of terrorists – including Mughrabi – by the PA in naming streets, squares, sports clubs and camps after them, it is not common for there to be significant push-back from the international community.
The senior diplomatic official attributed this both to the new secretary-general of the UN, whom he said has no tolerance for those types of actions, and to Trump and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who has made it clear that Washington will not tolerate the type of Israel-bashing in the international body that has been customary in the past.
“I think there is a state of mind in the world now that is no longer willing to accept these things,” the official said of the naming of the center for Mughrabi.
“Until now, people closed their eyes and did nothing,” the official added. “Now the situation has changed, and I think it is a combination of two things. It is a change that began with Guterres, who took over on January 1, and it continued afterward with the election of Trump and the appointment of Haley.”
Last week, Palestinian Media Watch translated a report from the Palestinian Ma’an wire service that quoted Reem Hajjar, a member of the Burka village council, saying at the inauguration of the center two weeks ago that it 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.”
On Friday, Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende slammed the naming of the center after Mughrabi and asked the PA to repay money Norway provided for the center.