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Group of European Parliament MPs Call for Withholding of Funding for Palestinian Authority Over Incitement in Schools

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avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

An image found in an Arabic-language textbook for fifth grade Palestinian students. Photo: IMPACT-se.

A multi-party group of more than 20 European Parliament members issued an open letter on Wednesday to top EU officials demanding that the supra-national body withhold certain funds from the Palestinian Authority until it expunged racist and antisemitic incitement from its school textbooks.

The letter — signed by MEPs associated with the Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) group in the European Parliament — said in part, “Palestinian Authority textbooks are replete with troubling insertions of antisemitic content and imagery, hate speech and incitement to violence, martyrdom, and jihad across all grades and subjects.”

“These textbooks are drafted and taught by education sector civil servants and teachers whose salaries are financed through the EU’s PEGASE instrument,” it said, referring to an EU mechanism for transferring donor funds to Palestinian institutions and projects.

The textbooks, the letter charged, “violate each of the UNESCO standards for peace, tolerance, and coexistence in school education.”

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“In the interests of advancing peace and putting an end to harmful incitement, we suggest that the Commission put a 5% reserve on funding for the Palestinians until such time that it makes substantive positive changes to the textbooks,” it urged.

The letter was addressed to the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, and Neighborhood Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi.

TFI Chair MEP Lukas Mandl of Austria, commented, “It’s unacceptable that the EU is funding Palestinian textbooks which glorify terrorism and peddle antisemitism.”

“Incitement by the Palestinian Authority continues to be a major obstacle to achieving our common goal of a negotiated two-state solution,” he said. “By putting a temporary and partial hold on funding, hopefully Ramallah will understand the message that the EU is serious about fighting incitement and all forms of antisemitism.”

TFI’s Secretary General Daniel Schwammenthal of the American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Institute, stated, “An EU that stands for a peaceful two-state solution must also take a clear stand against EU funds being misused to poison the minds of young Palestinians.”

Marcus Sheff, CEO of the research group IMPACT-se, which examines and reports on racism and incitement in Palestinian textbooks, said, “This initiative brings together just some of the hundreds of European Parliament members who voted overwhelmingly to condemn the hate, antisemitism and incitement to violence in Palestinian textbooks.”

“The final straw is the Palestinian Authority completely ignoring the stream of European officials who demanded the textbooks are changed, received assurances they would, only to be told the new curriculum is as full of hate as ever,” he asserted.

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