Terror Tournament

Update: UNDP denies sponsoring tournament, claims funds were for the 'Ansar al-Quds club'

May 2, 2013

Update, Thursday 8:03 PM: The UNDP did not initially respond to requests for comments. It posted a statement on its website this evening saying it "had no role in the tournament, its naming or any other activity related to it. It was not informed about the activity in question."

According to statement, the UNDP said it contribution was through a $25,000 grant to a soccer team for the Ansar al-Quds club.

"The UNDP logo—which is not even in its correct format—was used without any prior authorization from UNDP," said the agency.

The UNDP has requested that the club stop using its logo for events without prior authorization.

The United Nations Development Programme sponsored a West Bank soccer tournament in April held in honor of a Palestinian terrorist who orchestrated one of the deadliest terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians in history, according to Palestinian media reports.

The annual Prince of Martyrs Khalil Al-Wazir Abu Jihad Football Tournament is named in honor of Fatah-founder Al-Wazir, who planned the 1978 Coastal Road massacre that killed 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children. The tournament, held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Al-Wazir’s "martyrdom death," was reportedly organized by the Ansar Al-Quds Club and sponsored by the UNDP, according to Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.

The UNDP logo was prominently displayed on a banner emblazoned with a giant photo of Al-Wazir, pictures published by Palestinian news agency Ma'an show.

Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli research institute that monitors Palestinian media, first flagged the reports and photos.


Hillel Neuer, the executive director of United Nations watchdog group U.N. Watch, said the UNDP’s sponsorship of the terrorist-honoring tournament was not a surprise, considering the U.N.’s history of indulging anti-Israel sentiment.

"Some agencies do try to play an educational role and try to introduce basic standards of decency and international human rights standards," Neuer said. "Too often, as in this case, they try to appease this raw hatred."

"They look the other way and either knowingly enter into arrangements where they are endorsing something that sends an evil message, like this [tournament] does," said Neuer. "They don’t want to deal with the alternative. The alternative is to fight something that is deeply rooted, endemic, and widespread, and to be unpopular in these areas."

The Israel Project, a U.S.-based pro-Israel group, also blasted the UNDP’s sponsorship.

"The United Nations has been breathtakingly lax in condemning Palestinian incitement, which strikes at the heart of the peace process and the U.N.'s credibility," said Omri Ceren, a senior adviser at the Israel Project. "Now, apparently, some U.N. officials have moved from silence to active support. This is disgraceful, and it underscores the unhelpful role often played by the U.N. across the region."

Ceren said the incident was the latest example of why there needs to be more accountability for the United Nations.

"U.S. policymakers are increasingly calling for accountability and reform specifically on how the U.N. approaches Israel and the Palestinians, and this incident highlights exactly why," Ceren said.

The soccer tournament was one of several Palestinian Authority events held to honor Al-Wazir’s death in April. PMW also reported on an April rally where PLO politician Saleh Rafat, "directed a salutation of honor and pride to the soul of Martyr Abu Jihad" and District Governor of Jenin Talal Dweikat called him "one of the giants and heroes who wrote epics of bravery," according to Palestinian media reports.