The European Parliament is set to withhold £13.7 million in funding for the Palestinian Authority until it reforms textbooks that currently include “violent depictions and hate speech”.
Israel’s supporters cheered the Budget Committee’s decision to hold a reserve on funds allocated in the European Union’s draft budget for 2019, after years of highlighting problematic teaching material given to Palestinian children. The decision will now be made at a plenary on 24 October.
“This is the first time that a reserve on PA funds has been adopted by the committee, until changes to the textbooks are made,” said Marcus Sheff, chief executive of IMPACT-se, an Israel-based organisation campaigning for reform in Palestinian education. “We are obviously delighted.”
The amendment passed on Tuesday night with support from the European Parliament’s biggest bloc, the European People’s Party, as well as the European Conservatives and Reformists and elements of other parties. It was opposed by the second-largest Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group.
It states that the reserve “will be released when the PA has committed to reform its school curriculum and textbooks to bring them in-line with UNESCO standards for peace and tolerance in school education”.
The textbooks in question were published by the PA last year and are used to educate 1.2 million Palestinian children. The books are financed by the EU, but the bill says they “contain numerous examples of violent depictions, hate speech – in particular against Israel – and glorifications of jihad and martyrdom”.
Politicians will revisit the issue at plenary on 24 October and Sheff said “there is still much to do,” adding that the reserve “is the best possible method of stopping the hate in textbooks and giving Palestinian children a change of peace education… It should be increased year-on-year if the PA continues to ignore the wishes of those who pay for the curriculum”.