Top EU official backs tougher action against PA over textbooks report

The intervention came after the release of an EU-funded study into the contents of more than 170 Palestinian textbooks and teacher guides


A top EU official backed tougher action against the Palestinian Authority on Monday after a report from Brussels found evidence of incitement and antisemitism in Palestinian textbooks.

The intervention from Oliver Varhelyi – EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement - came after the delayed release of a damning EU-funded study into the contents of more than 170 Palestinian textbooks and teacher guides published between 2017 and 2019.

“The conditionality of our financial assistance in the educational sector needs to be duly considered,” the European commissioner for neighbourhood and enlargement said on Twitter.

He also backed a “firm commitment to fight antisemitism and engage with Palestinian Authority” and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants. 

The UK and EU have faced renewed pressure over wages paid to PA teachers since the report's publication.

Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Brussels office, called for “immediate action.”

“The textbooks must be immediately replaced and should the Palestinian Authority refuse to do so, the [European Commission] will have no other choice but to follow the Norwegian example and withhold some funding to bring about the necessary change,” he said.

The Conservative Friends of Israel parliamentary group said the UK should “act decisively to end its facilitation” of the PA’s “extreme curriculum”.

The study, carried out by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, found some of the material promotes terrorism and teaches antisemitism.

It highlighted dozens of examples including the glorification of Dalal al-Mughrabi, who killed 38 Israelis, including 13 children in a terror attack. 

The report also found glorification and praise of terrorists who killed Israeli civilians in history, social studies, science and maths books.

An EU spokesperson, Ana Pisonero, said the commission takes the study "seriously and will act on its findings as appropriate, with a view to bring about the full adherence to UNESCO standards in all Palestinian educational materials."

 "Our aim is to incentivise the adjustment to education material used by the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA to ensure full adherence to UNESCO standards. The commission reserves the right to take appropriate measures as necessary in this regard," she said.

An Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said: “We have been clear that incitement to hatred or violence is unacceptable from all parties and should have no place in education. 

“This report on Palestinian textbooks highlights progress in key areas, but also indicates that anti-Israel content remains.  

“We will continue to raise concerns about this with the Palestinian Authority, and continue to urge all parties to condemn incitement wherever and whenever it occurs.” 

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