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Palestinian Curriculum Won't Embrace Israel Unless It Moves Away From Violations, Says PA Official

© AP Photo / Nasser NasserPlacard with the colors of the Palestinian flags in front of Israeli barrier.
Placard with the colors of the Palestinian flags in front of Israeli barrier. - Sputnik International
21 members of the European Parliament have called on the EU to withhold the funds the bloc gives the Palestinian Authority, following the release of a study that showed PA textbooks still harboured notions of hatred and intolerance towards Israel and the Jewish people.

It was only in May that the Palestinian cabinet promised to implement changes to its curriculum for the 2020-2021 school year, vowing to eradicate hatred and incitement against Israel that was present in its textbooks.

Now, however, after the school year kicked off, a study by IMPACT-se, an Israeli research, policy and advocacy organisation that monitors the textbooks of the region, shows that the word given by the Palestinian Authority has not necessarily been kept.

Quite the opposite was true, the study claims, stating that "the newly published textbooks were found to be more radical than those previously published."

Hatred Still There

After analysing more than 200 textbooks, the think-tank found that 145 of them did not make any changes to their content. Some, however, have become even more radical, using the notions of violence, martyrdom and jihad across all ages and all subjects. 

The possibility of a peace with Israel was also rejected, whereas any historical Jewish presence in the area has been entirely omitted.

Israel is still depicted as an aggressor, whereas Jews are considered to be colonialist occupiers, and "there is no hint at the possibility of solving the conflict peacefully," reads the IMPACT-se report.

Addressing the issue, Sadek Al Khadour, the spokesman of the PA's education ministry, rejected Israeli claims that the Palestinian curriculum has become more radical and pointed the finger of blame at the Jewish state for trying to demonise the Palestinians.

"They are just trying to depict us as a people, who do not believe in tolerance and peace and this is simply not true. We did enhance concepts of tolerance and acceptance of other religions, including that of Judaism," he reassured.

However, Israel doesn't seem to be taken in by these reassurances, and nor does the EU.

Last week, shortly after IMPACT-se released its study, 21 members of the European Parliament called on the EU "to undertake a thorough investigation and take immediate intervention" regarding PA textbooks and urged the European bloc to withhold some of its funding to Ramallah.

Acceptance of Israel Impossible

At the same time, Al Khadour doesn't hide the fact that his government didn't change its attitude towards Israel and that it didn't care to include notions of peace and acceptance in their textbooks.

For the PA, such a move would be too revolutionary, too radical and somewhat out of place, especially given the upheavals Palestinians have seen over the past several years. 

It was Israel's pressure that eventually led to Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as the Jewish state's capital. 

And it was the work of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that convinced President Donald Trump to acknowledge the legality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, in which Israel continues to construct residential units, even though its so-called annexation plan has officially been taken off the table

But the embrace of Israel and a change in the PA's attitude towards it cannot be possible for yet another reason - public opinion.

In June, just days before Netanyahu decided to postpone his plan to extend Israel's sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, a poll conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research found that 75 percent of men and 67 percent of women wanted the PA to end its Oslo agreements with Israel.

52 percent said they supported an armed struggle against the Jewish state, whereas 37 percent stated they no longer believed in a two-state solution.

For many Israeli experts, these findings weren't surprising and some have even attributed the alarming numbers to the Palestinian education system, which breeds intolerance towards the Jewish state.

"When you teach your children that their biggest achievement in life is to become martyrs and kill as many Jews as possible, you realise that the notion of peace is as remote as ever before," Prof. Abraham Sion, a former chair of the Centre for Law and Mass Media at Ariel University, told Sputnik in July.

Yet, Al Khadour downplayed these and similar comments shifting the blame to Israel and its "atrocities".

"Peace has nothing to do with Palestinian textbooks. Israeli curriculum is also teaching to treat Palestinians as their enemies," he said, referring to studies that showed the Jewish state's curriculum also featured a number of negative stereotypes against the PA.

"How can we teach peace in our schools, when Israel keeps destroying our dream of an independent state and when it keeps our people under a blockade in Gaza?... Peace cannot be reached unless Israel puts an end to its violent crimes and stops its political, economic and military violations against our people." 

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