A major government review into incitement and antisemitism in Palestinian textbooks that was due to have been completed this month has only just begun.
The Department for International Development (DfID) announced the review with the European Union six months ago, saying it would be complete by September 2019.
However, contractual disputes with the reviewing institute alongside a Palestinian cabinet reshuffle meant that the work only began this month.
In March, DfID said: “The results of the review will be used to identify the steps necessary to ensure such books promote peace and tolerance. Work on this topic will begin immediately, with results from the review available to the Palestinian Authority and partners by September 2019.”
However this week the department said there had been “some delays” and while any new completion was yet to be announced, it was likely to be 2020.
“After some delays, the EU has now started work on the review,” a DFID spokesman said. “This independent review, which has strong international support, will identify where action needs to be taken and help ensure children get a quality education.”
He added that “the UK government was “deeply concerned about allegations relating to the Palestinian Authority’s new curriculum,” saying: “Antisemitism, violence and hate have no place in any society.”
The six-month delay has been due to a change in the Palestinian Education Minister and to contractual negotiations between the EU and the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, tasked with carrying out the work.
The UK has increased its aid budget to Palestinian refugees in recent months, and UK aid helps pay vetted Palestinian teachers’ salaries, but it does not pay for textbooks for primary or secondary schoolchildren in the Palestinian territories.
Nevertheless the UK Government has been keen to review the textbooks, with several MPs pointing to problems, and has been left frustrated by the delay.
DfID even commissioned the institute to produce a separate study to develop the method for carrying out the main review, in order that it could begin as soon as the contract was signed.
The then International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said in March that “the UK is rightly at the forefront of the international community on this issue”.