Monday, 16 May 2022 - 15 of Iyyar, 5782
EU

EU Parliament budgetary control committee condemns the PA for its violent and hateful school textbooks

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EU funding to the Palestinian Authorityis is still suspended as deliberations to condition funding on textbook reform have reached President of EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

EU funding to the PA has been frozen during deliberations on funding conditionality because of textbook hate.

This week’s motion was proposed by the centrist-liberal Renew Europe group and supported by the Christian-Democrat European People’s Party (EPP), the largest political group in the EU parliament.

 

The European Parliament’s Budgetary Control committee has passed a motion condemning the Palestinian Authority (PA) for drafting and teaching new violent and hatful materials while using EU funding.

The motion is part of the European Union’s annual budgetary procedure which scrutinizes how European taxpayer funds have been spent through projects carried out by the EU.

EU funding to the PA has been frozen during deliberations on funding conditionality because of textbook hate.

This week’s motion was proposed by the centrist-liberal Renew Europe Party and supported by the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest political group in the EU parliament.

It demands that the Palestinian Authority be “closely scrutinized” and that the curriculum be modified “expeditiously.”

The motion reads:

  • Deplores that problematic and hateful material in Palestinian school textbooks has still not been removed and is concerned about the continued failure to act effectively against hate speech and violence in school textbooks and especially in the newly created study cards; reiterates its position that all textbooks and materials supported by EU Funds which are used in schools must be in line with UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, co-existence and non-violence; moreover, insists that salaries of teachers and education sector civil servants that are financed from  Union  funds such as PEGASE be used for drafting and teaching curricula which reflect the UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence, and non-violence, as was decided upon by Union education ministers in Paris on 17 March 2015; and European Parliament decisions on discharge  in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial years 2016, 2018 and 2019; requests therefore the Commission to closely scrutinises that the Palestinian Authority (PA) and relevant experts to modify the curriculum expeditiously.

The motion is based on a January 2022 report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se)  that was presented to Committee members in a series of meetings in recent weeks.

The IMPACT-se report uncovered thousands of pages of new teaching material found to be worse than current or previous Palestinian textbooks produced by PA civil servants that directly call for violence and promote antisemitism. The salaries of these civil servants are funded by the EU.

As IMPACT-se pointed out to lawmakers, this material was written after the European Commission committed to a roadmap together with the PA to ensure new textbooks produced in 2021 would be free of hate.

French MEP Ilana Cicurel of the Renew Europe group said: ‘’The vote of our amendment by Budgetary Control committee members is a clear call for action towards the EU to stop the funding and use of educational contents that promote antisemitism and incite to hatred and violence in Palestinian textbooks.’’

She added: ‘’ In the aftermath of the recent wave of terrorist attacks in which 11 Israelis were murdered we see where hate leads. It is more than ever urgent to have educational material that fully complies with UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence and non-violence.’’

’Since the beginning of the parliamentary term, we have been asking the Commission to take proactive measures to stop the spreading of such contents in line with its own Strategy on combating anti-Semitism and fostering Jewish Life. Not only is antisemitism incompatible with European values, it is also unacceptable anywhere in the world,’’ she said.

German MEP Niclas Herbst of the EPP Party, who is Vice Chairman of the Budget Committee, stressed that ‘’there is zero tolerance for antisemitism and promoting of violence. All Palestinian pupils have the right for an education free of hatred and as long as we, the European Union finance an education system we are also responsible for this. We need to talk about funding, we need to talk about allocations. If we take our discharge process (budgetary procedure) seriously, if we want to keep our credibility we need to talk about the funding of the educational system in general, because we cannot accept that this is financed with EU taxpayer money.’’

Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers of the European Conservative and Reformist (ECR) group  expressed the hope that the whole European Parliament would soon adopt the same position as the Budget Control committee.  ‘’Terrorism has no place in society and runs counter to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I once more strongly call on the Palestinian Authority, as well as the EU, to ensure that Palestinian schoolbooks and educational material are fully in line with UNESCO standards of peace and coexistence.’’

Deliberations on continued funding suspension and conditionality of EU funding have now reached EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the College of Commissioners. This according to a letter sent by the leaders of political  groups nfrom the left in the EU Parliament, including the Socialist group, to the EU Commission decrying the current funding freeze, demanding immediate disbursement, and condemning any conditionality on textbook reform.

Though some aid is expected to be channeled to the PA later this year, the amount to be made conditional on textbook reform is unknown.

The Budgetary Control committee vote followed statements made last week by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, and the PA curriculum chief unequivocally refusing to pursue textbook reform after meetings held in Ramallah with the EU Commissioner in charge of neighborhood policy, Oliver Varhelyi, who oversees aid to the PA, who visited the PA to discuss the funding freeze due to textbook incitement.

IMPACT-se briefed Commissioner Varhelyi’s office on the issue ahead of his visit to Ramallah.

PA PM Shtayyeh said during the meeting: ‘’The delay in European budget support for the past months had a negative impact on the possibility of fulfilling our obligations towards the groups that receive social support, as well as on the salaries of employees…. We refuse to accept the conditioning of European aid.’’

Foreign Minister Maliki said: “We will make it clear to him [Commissioner Varhelyi] that we reject the idea of conditionality in return for restoring aid to Palestine, and that he must reconsider his position and cancel this conditionality. This is the message he will hear when he visits Palestine.

PA curriculum chief, Tharwat Zaid doubled down on his support for textbooks glorifying the murder of civilians and faulted IMPACT-se. He declared : ‘’This European position is mainly linked to… ‘IMPACT-se’ … where they are making attempts to incite against the Palestinian curriculum at the level of European countries and the West in general… We are like any people in the world. We have our symbols from Dalal al-Mughrabi, Abu Ammar, Ahmed Yassin, Izz al-Din al-Qassam…etc. These are our symbols and heroes, and they can only be present in our curricula as heroes.’’

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