CFI Officer Nicola Richards has condemned incitement in the Palestinian school curriculum and asked the Government to “ensure that UK aid does not prolong the conflict” between Israel and the Palestinians.
In Parliament on Tuesday, the MP for West Bromwich East raised her concerns that “despite assurances that, after countless delays, the EU review of Palestinian textbooks would be published in March, there is still no sign of the report”.
“UK taxpayers’ money pays the salaries of Palestinian teachers who use material inciting violence against Israel and Jews, making peace harder to achieve”, she underlined. The Conservative MP asked what more the Government will do “to ensure that UK aid does not prolong the conflict”.
In response, Middle East Minister James Cleverly said he understands that “the EU review is in its final stages”, but could not comment on the content of the report until it is released.
“We regularly engage with the EU at senior level to push for timely publication, and we regularly liaise with the Palestinian Authority (PA) to try to bring about the improvements that my Honourable Friend has highlighted”, he added.
Cross-party parliamentarians have raised concerns for many years over material inciting violence and hatred of Israel and Jews in the PA school curriculum.
Concerns over the EU review have been raised after an online presentation of the interim report mistakenly presented Arabic textbooks used in Israel’s Jerusalem municipality Arab schools as PA books. Researchers praised the PA for the promotion of “tolerance towards Israeli individuals” found in these Israeli textbooks. Basic translation errors were found in the inception report that informed the review, pointing to a lack of familiarity of Palestinian Arabic culture by researchers.
Since the EU review began, the PA has modified its curriculum and uses new textbooks. The worst examples of antisemitism and incitement remain.
In 2020, the UK gave around £20 million to fund Palestinian teachers’ salaries and £51 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which supports the education of over 320,000 children in the West Bank and Gaza using the official PA curriculum.
In January 2021, it was discovered that educational material published by UNRWA for schools in the West Bank and Gaza and distributed to Palestinian children to aid home learning during Covid-19 glorifies terrorism and incites violence against Israel.
The UK Government states that UK aid “does not fund the textbooks used in Palestinian schools”, yet Conservative MPs have highlighted that the UK is paying for teachers and education sector public servants to draft, implement and teach this material.