Norway Condemns Use of Funding to Youth Center Glorifying Terrorist
In May 2017, the Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC) inaugurated a youth center for girls in the town of Burqa, near Nablus. As reported by Palestinian Media Watch, the center is named after Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist who in 1978 murdered 37 civilians, including 12 children. Funding for this building was provided by Norway, UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women), and Palestinian Authority Ministry of Local Government.
As documented by NGO Monitor, WATC is a Palestinian NGO that receives $530,000 (2014-2016) in core funding from the Ramallah-based Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (the HR/IHL Secretariat). The Secretariat is a joint NGO funding mechanism of Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Norway briefly funded the Secretariat in the second half of 2016, before reversing this decision.
Upon learning that the center had been named after a terrorist, the Norwegian government issued a strong condemnation. Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende stated:
“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.”
“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 centre to be repaid. 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.” (emphasis added)
Norway’s reaction provides an important example for the other WATC governmental funders that are reviewing their policies. In June 2017, the Swiss Parliament is scheduled to complete legislation regulating NGO funding, and in May 2017, Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen acknowledged the need for due diligence while renewing funding to the Secretariat. In the context of criticism, including from Prime Minister Netanyahu, Samuelsen declared:
“…But if any of these organizations [funded by Denmark] crossed a line… if a leader of one of these organizations for example publicly announced that they want to get rid of all Jews….we will immediately close down the support… If you end up in a way where you have an aggressive rhetoric, wanting to kill people or do illegal things, then of course we will immediately close down the support…
By ending funding to the Ramallah Secretariat and in its response to the WATC center, Norway has set an important moral example for the other European funders.