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EU Parliament Passes Resolution Condemning Hate Speech In Palestinian Textbooks

The European Parliament on Thursday passed a resolution condemning the Palestinian Authority for continuing to include hate speech and violent material in school textbooks.

The resolution said the European Parliament, the legislative branch of the European Union, “is concerned that problematic 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.”

It added an insistence that “salaries of teachers and education sector civil servants that are financed from [European] Union funds… be used for drafting and teaching curricula which reflects UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence, and non-violence.”

This parliamentary report, which was drafted in March, scrutinizes EU spending for the financial year 2018 and was drafted by Monika Hohlmeier, a German European People’s Party lawmaker and member of the legislature’s budgetary control committee.

The report could have implications for how the EU allocates its budget going forward.

In a separate clause, which didn’t single out the Palestinians, the resolution stressed the need to “guarantee that no Union funds… are used to finance textbooks and educational material which incite religious radicalisation, intolerance, ethnic violence and martyrdom among children.”

The report further urged the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, “to ensure that all third entities only use Union funds to provide for textbooks and teaching material that reflect common values and fully comply with UNESCO standards promoting peace, tolerance and co-existence in school education.”

The resolutions relating to the matter — three out of a package of 468 budgetary resolutions — were all approved by at least 400 lawmakers in the 705-member European Parliament.

“The EU has repeatedly discussed with both its Israeli and Palestinian partners issues and concerns related to incitement to hatred and violence, which is fundamentally incompatible with advancing a peaceful two-state solution and is greatly exacerbating mistrust between the communities,” a spokesperson for the EU delegation in Ramat Gan told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

“The EU does not fund PA textbooks and does not intend to do so,” she insisted.

The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), an Israeli watchdog that analyzes Palestinian textbooks, said the European Parliament “is clearly exasperated by the continued payment of massive grants to the Palestinian educational sector, which is then promptly turned into one of the most hate-filled, violent and extreme curricula worldwide.”

The group said the EU transferred around 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) to the Palestinian education sector since September 2016.

EU officials said an upcoming report on Palestinian school curriculum will remain classified, IMPACT-se said.

“Classifying the report is senseless and frankly, seems highly suspicious,” IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said in a statement.

But the EU spokesperson told The Times of Israel that it has not been decided to classify the report. “There is no freshly-minted report. The EU is funding a study, carried out by an independent and internationally recognized research institute. The study is foreseen to be finalized by the end of the year,” she said.

ELNET, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening Europe-Israel relations, applauded the EP resolution, calling it “a major achievement for Israel’s security, but also for preparing the ground for future coexistence.”

The American Jewish Committee’s Europe branch, the AJC Transatlantic Institute, commended the move and called on the EU’s executive body to ensure funds promote peace and tolerance in schools.

“The European Parliament deserves praise for calling out the Palestinian Authority’s systematic incitement in school text books. By putting both Ramallah and the EU Commission on notice, lawmakers took a clear stand against EU funds being misused to poison the minds of young Palestinians,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute.

“Palestinian incitement remains one of the main obstacles to a negotiated two-state solution with Israel,” Schwammenthal said.

“It’s especially thanks to the critical research by IMPACT-se that rampant anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement in Palestinian Authority schools — funded by EU taxpayers — has been exposed,” Schwammenthal added.

The European Parliament in April 2018 passed legislation geared to prevent hateful content in Palestinian textbooks.

In October 2018 the parliament’s budgetary committee recommended freezing more than $17 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority over incitement against Israel in its textbooks.

By Raphael Ahren – The Times Of Israel