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EU condemns ‘hateful’ Palestinian textbooks, Israeli ‘institutional discrimination’

Deborah Stone
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EU condemns ‘hateful’ Palestinian textbooks, Israeli ‘institutional discrimination’

Published: 18 July 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Wide-ranging recommendations on European relations with the Palestinian Authority threaten to freeze funding over textbooks and says Israel "systemically oppresses and institutionally discriminates against Palestinians".

The European Parliament has adopted recommendations that makes education funding to the Palestinian Authority conditional on the removal of antisemitism and incitement from its textbooks.

“[We] stress that EU financial support for the PA in the area of education should only be provided on the condition that textbook content be aligned with UNESCO standards that all antisemitic references be deleted and that examples that incite hatred and violence be removed, as repeatedly requested,” it said.

"[We] emphasise the importance of condemning and eliminating all forms of hate speech and violent behaviour on both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides, regardless of the context, [and] stress the importance of education in the building of prospects for a two-state solution."

The textbook clause was part of a wide-ranging set of recommendations on relations with the Palestinian Authority that criticised both Palestinian and Israeli activity in the region.

The resolution supported a two-state solution, with the state of Israel and the state of Palestine living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition under the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.

The resolution ramped up pressure on the Palestine Authority while criticising Israel over settlements and human rights abuses.

It called for an immediate end to Palestinian terrorism, including the rocket attacks carried out by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

It also called on the Palestinian Authority to hold "free, credible, inclusive, transparent and fair" parliamentary and presidential elections, improve protection of women and meet international standards on LGBTI anti-discrimination legislation. It sought a cessation to arbitrary arrests and torture of Palestinians, suggesting that it would consider "redirecting [PA] funds to Palestinian civil society organisations and human rights watchdogs".

The resolution highlighted human rights violations by Israel, including that Palestinians and Israeli settlers are tried under different laws. “The Israeli Government systemically oppresses and institutionally discriminates against Palestinians in a number of areas, including law enforcement, building permits, freedom of movement and economic activity,” it said.

On West Bank settlements, it said, “It remains the EU’s firm position that permanent occupation, settlements, demolitions and evictions are illegal under international law.”

It demanded that Israel end the Gaza blockade, "mitigate the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and actively work towards a political solution, including security guarantees". In the West Bank, it demanded that Israel stop "destroying vital civilian infrastructure and illegally exploiting water and land resources" and stop "favouring Israeli settler companies over Palestinians with regard to construction permits, operating licences and access to natural resources”.

The recommendations also reflected growing international support for revising the Paris Protocols – the financial arrangement between Israel and the PA set up as part of the Oslo Accords. Under that arrangement, Israel collects duties and taxes on the PA's behalf, but in 2018, it passed a law allowing it to withhold amounts which it says correlate to payments provided to Palestinian prisoners and terrorists.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell summarised the EU's approach in saying that "a stronger and more credible Palestinian Authority as a partner is in everyone’s interest".  

In 2023, EU earmarked €186 ($A306) in funds for the Palestinians and €82 ($A135) million for UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). The resolution is part of the EU’s annual budget oversight to examine how European taxpayer funds are spent. It passed 421 in favour, 151 against, with five abstentions.


Full resolution: EU Relations with the Palestinian Authority (European Parliament)


Reading between the lines of Palestinian textbooks (The Jewish Independent)

About the author

Deborah Stone

Deborah Stone is Editor-in-Chief of TJI. She has more than 30 years experience as a journalist and editor, including as a reporter and feature writer on The Age and The Sunday Age, as Editor of the Australian Jewish News and as Editor of ArtsHub.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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