Belgium Suspends PA Construction Projects After Palestinian School Renamed for Notorious Terrorist
The Belgian government is suspending any efforts to construct or furnish Palestinian schools, after one built with Brussels’ aid was renamed in honor of a mass-murdering terrorist, The Algemeiner has learned.
Located in the southern West Bank, the school’s controversial name pays homage to Dalal Mughrabi, who led a massacre of 38 people — including 13 children — near Tel Aviv in 1978. Its logo also includes a map erasing Israel, while its Facebook page has posted pictures glorifying Palestinian attackers.
A plaque at the school, which was first identified by the monitoring group Palestinian Media Watch, notes that it was established with Belgian support.
Didier Vanderhasselt, a spokesperson for the Belgian Foreign Ministry, confirmed to The Algemeiner that the school’s construction was supported by the Belgian government between 2012 and 2013.
“When the school building was handed over to the local community in 2013 it was called ‘Beit Awwa Basic Girls School,’ subsequently the name was changed to ‘Dalal Mughrabi Elementary School,’” Vanderhasselt explained. “The Belgian government was unaware of this name change.”
He added that Belgium “unequivocally condemns the glorification of terrorist attacks,” and “will not allow itself to be associated with the names of terrorists in any way.”
“Belgium has immediately raised this issue with the Palestinian Authority and is awaiting a formal response,” Vanderhasselt said. “In the meantime Belgium will put on hold any projects related to the construction or equipment of Palestinian schools.”
The school indicated on its Facebook page on Friday that it was discussing the prospect of changing its name with parents and community members. However, in a post on Wednesday, the school wrote, “The name of Dalal is engraved in our hearts and will remain engraved in our minds.”
The school also shared a poem written to express the “sadness” of “the faculty and students” over “the confiscation and robbery of the right and the will of the Palestinian people to name its institutions.”
“It is possible to change the name in the official records,” the school wrote in another post, “but it is very difficult to change what is in the heart and conscience… and it is very difficult to submit to this intellectual occupation.”
The Belgian Development Agency (BTC) has built 23 schools in the West Bank since 2001, and plans to fund the construction of 10 more by 2020, according to its website.
As “an important partner of the Palestinian Authority’s strategic plan for education,” Belgium “endeavors to promote a culture of respect for human rights, human dignity and tolerance,” Vanderhasselt said. “This should be reflected in curricula taught at schools funded abroad by Belgian taxpayer’s contributions as well as in the names and logos of such schools.”