European Parliament Condemns Palestinian Authority’s “Hateful” Textbooks and Ties Education Funding to Removal of Antisemitic Content
In a significant development, the European Parliament passed a resolution on Wednesday denouncing the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the presence of “hateful” content in its textbooks. The resolution further stipulates that future funding for education will be contingent upon the elimination of antisemitic material from the curriculum.
This marks the fourth consecutive year that the European Parliament has expressed criticism of the PA regarding its educational materials. The resolution was adopted as part of the EU’s annual budget oversight, which aims to ensure the responsible use of European taxpayer funds. The vote resulted in 421 in favor, 151 against, and five abstentions.
According to the Israeli Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), the wording of the resolution displayed a heightened level of criticism toward the PA compared to previous resolutions.
For the first time, the EU resolution directly linked the content of PA textbooks to funding associated with Palestinian terrorism, particularly concerning attacks perpetrated by young individuals. The resolution also acknowledged the presence of antisemitism in the textbooks and called for its eradication.
The European Parliament has adopted a resolution expressing deep concern over the persisting presence of problematic and hateful material in Palestinian school textbooks and study materials. The resolution emphasizes the crucial importance of providing peaceful and unbiased textbooks to ensure education and access for students, particularly in light of the growing involvement of teenagers in terrorist activities.
The resolution highlights that financial support from the European Union (EU) to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the field of education should be contingent upon aligning the content of textbooks with UNESCO standards. It specifically calls for the removal of all anti-Semitic references and the elimination of examples that promote hatred and incite violence, as previously requested in other resolutions.
Additionally, the EU has requested the European Commission to closely monitor and ensure that the Palestinian Authority expeditiously modifies the entire curriculum. The resolution received support from prominent center-left and center-right parties, according to IMPACT-se.
During the voting session, Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, a member of the center-right European People’s Party Group, the largest party in the European Parliament, emphasized the necessity of eliminating antisemitic rhetoric from Palestinian Authority textbooks, underlining a zero-tolerance approach.
While previous resolutions have addressed incitement to violence, this resolution explicitly demands the removal of antisemitic content, as highlighted by IMPACT-se.
Regarding Israel, the European Union (EU) has expressed concern over the destruction and confiscation of projects funded by the EU in the West Bank. It reiterates the European Council’s position that all agreements between Israel and the EU must explicitly exclude the territories occupied by Israel since 1967.
Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, highlighted that the Palestinian Authority (PA) vigorously lobbied against the resolution in Brussels. However, the PA faced the harsh reality of its own contentious school curriculum, which has fueled the frustration and anger of European Parliament members.
The ongoing incitement of hatred and violence among Palestinian schoolchildren, supported by EU funding year after year, has played a significant role in shaping the European Parliament’s stance.
As the largest donor to the PA, the European Union plays a significant role in supporting the West Bank economy, including paying the salaries of many civil servants. Over the years, Brussels has provided substantial direct budget support, amounting to approximately $2.5 billion between 2008 and 2020.
PA textbooks have long been a subject of controversy, with critics accusing them of promoting violence and glorifying terrorism. The PA defends the curriculum, claiming it accurately reflects its national narrative.
In a recent meeting between EU Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi and Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Brussels, Varhelyi made an announcement regarding EU funding for Palestinian textbooks. He stated that the EU would take necessary measures to ensure that it does not fund Palestinian textbooks that promote hostility towards Israel.
According to Israeli officials, Varhelyi also pledged that EU funding would not reach any terrorist groups, even indirectly. This commitment reflects the EU’s determination to prevent its funds from inadvertently supporting activities linked to terrorism.
Last year, the EU withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the Palestinian Authority for several months due to concerns about the content of the textbooks. This indicates that the issue of textbook content has been a significant factor in EU decision-making regarding funding allocation to the Palestinian Authority.