Committe on Budgets Members approved amendment to cut 20 million Euros until textbooks are revised
Amendment proposed by Renew Europe political group with supprt of the European People’s Party
Committee must now bring budget to EU parliament plenary session for vote
The European Parliament committee on budgets adopted on Tuesday an amendment to the 2022 EU budget to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority (PAà and to UNWRA, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East, over hateful, violent and antisemitic content in Palestinian school textbooks.
The amendment withholds 20 million Euros to Palestinian education until the PA and UNRWA make immediate revisions to textbooks used by Palestinian students by the next school year.
The textbook changes must include improvements that promote coexistence with and tolerance towards the Jewish-Israeli other and education about peace with Israel. If there is no change, the reserve will be used to fund NGO’s that promote tolerance, coexistence, and respect for the Israeli other in school settings.
The amendment was tabled by the Committee on Budgets Vice-Chairman, Belgian MEP Olivier Chastel of the center-liberal Renew Europe political group with the support of committee co-Vice Chairman, German MEP Niclas Herbst of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the largest group in the parliament.
“Many Palestinian textbooks continue to violate UNESCO standards for peace, tolerance and non-violence in education. They spread hatred against Israel and anti-Semitism. If the textbooks are not revised, the withheld funds should go to NGOs that adhere to UNESCO standards. Parliament approved this proposal today. With 20 million euros, more than 5 percent are withheld. This is a great success and the right signal that the books must finally be revised! No hatred against Israel should be taught,” Herbst stated.
The committee is now set to pass the ratified 2022 budget to plenary in two weeks, where it will be voted upon.
EU Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi, who oversees bilateral relations and distributes aid to the PA and UNRWA, has repeatedly suggested that the EU may choose to cut funding to the Palestinian education sector over the misuse of European donations.
A recent report commissioned by the EU found that the PA curriculum contains antisemitism, violence, glorification of terrorism, and other content which violates international UNESCO standards for peace and tolerance in education. The study was spurred by IMPACT-se’s research and briefings about the issue.
Earlier this month, MEPs stated their opposition to funding hate in the PA education system in three separate parliamentary meetings; in the foreign affairs committee, the head of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, acknowledged that his organization identified antisemitism and glorification of terror in the books used by UNRWA students.
But several members of the committee questioned him on continued teaching of hate, violence and antisemitism in the textbooks and UNRWA materials, citing a recent report by IMPACT-se, an organization that analyzes schoolbooks and curricula for compliance with UNESCO-defined standards on peace and tolerance. on the textbooks.
IMPACT-se played also a role in the initiation and adoption of the PA funding cut adopted on Tuesday.
‘’This is a crucial measure which speaks volumes about the ongoing frustration felt by European lawmakers, who are simply no longer prepared to fund the teaching of hate in Palestinian classrooms,’’ said Marcus Sheff, IMPACT-se CEO.
He added, ‘’They are rightly demanding that Palestinian children are taught about tolerance, coexistence, and respect. Sadly, this does not look likely: just last week, Palestinian President Abbas made it crystal clear in his United Nations General Assembly address that the PA will not change the textbooks. He must know that has a price and that he cannot expect donors to pay and pay while they insist on their right to teach hate.’’