The European Union will fund a study on Palestinian school textbooks "with a view to identifying possible incitement to hatred and violence and any possible lack of compliance with UNESCO standards of peace and tolerance in education," EU Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini told European lawmakers.
The announcement follows a damning report by IMPACT-se, a Jerusalem-based watchdog, which reviewed selected examples from the new Palestinian school curriculum for the 2018–19 academic year and concluded the material was "more radical than those previously published".
"There have been allegations that some elements in Palestinian school textbooks are not in line with international standards for peace education. These allegations have been contested by multiple sources. Therefore, the EU is planning to fund a study, to be carried out by an independent and internationally recognised research institute," an EU spokesperson confirmed to Euronews.
The study will provide a "comprehensive, non-biased and objective analysis of the current Palestinian textbooks, without a predetermined agenda or outcome," the spokesperson said.
"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," the spokesman added.
What's in the contested Palestinian textbooks?
"In contrast to previous curricula, this new curriculum deliberately omits any discussion of peace education or reference to any Jewish presence in Palestine before 1948," IMPACT-se said in its report.
"Most troubling, there is a systematic insertion of violence, martyrdom and jihad across all grades and subjects in a more extensive and sophisticated manner, embracing a full spectrum of extreme nationalist ideas and Islamist ideologies that extend even into the teaching of science and mathematics," the NGO continued.
The report provides various examples such as the poem below, aimed at nine-year-olds, and calling for "sacrificing blood" to remove the enemy from the land by "eliminating the usurper".
Euronews contacted the Palestinian National Commission for Education, Culture and Science and the Permanent Delegation to UNESCO, but had not received a response at the time of writing.
What's the EU's role in funding Palestinian educational programmes?
The European Commission is the biggest donor of external assistance to the Palestinians, according to its website.
The EU has provided financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) through the PEGASE Direct Financial Support programmes "to cover its recurrent costs such as civil employee salaries and pensions, social expenditure, private sector arrears and essential public services".
IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff claimed in a statement that “the [EU] is by far the largest donor to the Palestinian Ministry of Education.”