The West Bank town of Burqa on Tuesday vowed that it “would never capitulate to pressure and blackmail” and would not rename a women’s center named after a female Palestinian terrorist, after the facility’s international backers pulled their support and lambasted the Palestinians for glorifying terrorism.
“The center has no intention of caving in to the pressure and changing its name,” Burqa council head Sami Daghlas told the official Palestinian Authority news outlet Wafa.
Last week, Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende condemned the Palestinian Authority for naming the center after Dalal Mughrabi, who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre. Mughrabi and several other Fatah terrorists landed on a beach near Tel Aviv, hijacked a bus on Israel’s Coastal Road and killed 38 civilians, 13 of them children, and wounded over 70. Oslo demanded its money back.
The United Nations also withdrew its support for the center over the “offensive name.”
Responding to the decisions by Norway and the UN, Daghlas denied that Mughrabi was a terrorist, describing her as a “hero” and role model for young women.
The name was chosen “to commemorate a Palestinian hero who sacrificed herself for her country and therefore they have no intention to change its name, regardless of the price,” Daghlas said, while adding that the facility was built “to serve and empower young women in the village and to help them develop them to become active members in society.”
He also said that residents of Burqa would not object to returning the funds used to construct the center to Norway, which he said “was only few thousand dollars used to repair and refurbish the building,” according to the Ma’an news agecny.
On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Norway’s decision to withdraw funding for the center, revealing during the weekly meeting of his Likud parliamentary faction that he instructed Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem several days prior to press Norway and the UN to pull their donations from the West Bank project.
Norway’s foreign minister “did precisely that. And it’s good that he did,” the prime minister said.
Oslo’s rebuke of the PA came after the Norwegian branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem brought the matter to the country’s attention last week, the organization said in a statement, thanking Brende for his “swift and clear” response.
Palestinian Media Watch, which first brought attention to the naming of the women’s center, recently quoted a local village leader saying that “the center will focus especially on the history of the struggle of martyr Dalal Mughrabi and on presenting it to the youth groups… [this] constitutes the beginning of the launch of enrichment activities regarding the history of the Palestinian struggle.”
In addition to the women’s center in Burqa, the PA has named a number of events and facilities in honor of Mughrabi and the other terrorists who died during the massacre in a firefight with Israeli security forces, with the ruling Fatah party repeatedly hailing them as “martyrs.”
Marissa Newman and Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.