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September 28, 2018 12:39 pm

European Parliament Committee Votes to Withhold €15 Million to Palestinian Authority Over ‘Hate Speech’ in Textbooks

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The European Parliament’s debating chamber during a plenary session in Strasbourg. Photo: David Iliff.

The European Parliament Budgetary Committee on Tuesday approved a bill to withhold some payments to the Palestinian Authority until it commits to reforming its school curriculum, which has been accused of inciting hatred toward Israel and Jews, among others.

The amendment to the European Union’s draft 2019 budget seeks to suspend five percent — more than 15 million Euros — from the body’s planned annual commitment to the PA, which surpasses 308 million Euros. It was brought forward by Ingeborg Grässle, a member of Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union and chair of the Budgetary Control Committee.

“The reserve will be released when the Palestinian Authority 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 bill states.

It notes that textbooks published by the PA in 2017 were financed by PEGASE — the fund through which the EU channels its aid to the PA — and “contain, across all subjects, numerous examples of violent depictions, hate speech — in particular against Israel –, and glorifications of jihad and martyrdom.”

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“As has already been pointed out by Parliament in its resolution on the 2016 budget discharge (par. 272), EU-financed teaching and training programmes should reflect common values,” it concludes.

The amendment was supported by the the parliament’s largest faction, the European People’s Party, as well as the European Conservatives and Reformists. The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, the second-largest group in the parliament, led the opposition.

“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, head of the Jerusalem-based research group IMPACT-se, which supported the bill’s passage.

A report released by the group earlier this month accused grade 1–12 PA textbooks of portraying the entirety of Israel as Arab territory, glorifying martyrdom and mass-murderers, and referring to Jews as “sinful and liars.”

IMPACT-se cautioned that the amendment — which faces another vote on October 24 — may not be approved in a package like most others, but rather be considered separately.

“There is much to do, to ensure the amendment passes at plenary,” Sheff said. “The Socialist and Democrat faction members who opposed at committee surely cannot believe in their hearts that it is acceptable to spend millions of European taxpayer Euros encouraging Palestinian children to martyr and sacrifice themselves. Nor that it is right to teach 1.2 million youngsters that if they continue the struggle long enough, the desired outcome of a single Palestinian state from river to sea will emerge.”

“Ultimately, the reserve is the best possible method of stopping the hate in textbooks and giving Palestinian children a change of peace education,” he continued. “And it should be increased year-on-year if the PA continues to ignore the wishes of those who pay for the curriculum.”

In April, another European Parliament committee approved amendments that aim to prevent aid to the PA from financing educational materials considered discriminatory or intolerant.

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