Our approach is harmful to peace

Pupils are tasked with analysing ‘energy transformations’ in a slingshot aimed at Israelis
Pupils are tasked with analysing ‘energy transformations’ in a slingshot aimed at Israelis

The landmark peace deals signed between Israel and her Gulf partners are a much-welcome development, but the prospects that the Palestinians will be the next to join negotiations remain bleak.

The high hopes that the ‘Oslo generation’ of Palestinian youth would be educated towards peaceful coexistence with Israel in accordance with the terms of the 1995 Accords have faded.

Impressively, the Palestinians rank among countries with the world’s highest literacy rates, and Palestinian girls consistently outscore their male peers. It is regrettable that this positive story is tarnished by the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) inclusion of material inciting violence against Israel and Jews in its school curriculum, which makes peace harder to achieve.

In the UK, we should rightly be proud of our reputation as a leading foreign aid donor, yet this is undermined by our inadvertent support for extremism in the Palestinian Territories.

Despite rightly asserting the importance of calling out antisemitism at every turn, the government has turned a blind eye to anti-Jewish racism in the PA curriculum. Put simply, this antisemitic incitement would not be tolerated in the UK.

As well as paying the salaries of Palestinian teachers who use the official PA curriculum, UK aid supports schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the West Bank and Gaza, where teachers use the same curriculum.

 

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Recent reports that UNRWA has produced and distributed educational material to Palestinian children during the Covid-19 pandemic containing material glorifying terrorism is deeply alarming. While Canada and Australia have launched a full investigation into these reports, the UK has accepted UNRWA’s assurances that the issue has been rectified.

Although I share the government’s desire to support global education, the unintended consequence of funding Palestinian teachers and providing aid to UNRWA is the indoctrination of impressionable children.

Our current approach is harmful to peace and there is an urgent need to recalibrate our aid strategy. The EU review into the content of Palestinian textbooks is not fit for purpose and we cannot wait for another generation of Palestinian children be brainwashed on our watch before we act.

In order to build on the incredible momentum of the Abraham Accords and promote peace and prosperity throughout the Middle East – for Palestinians as well as Israelis – we must acknowledge that proper scrutiny and accountability is long overdue.

 

About the Author
Stephen Crabb MP is Conservative Friends of Israel’s Parliamentary Chairman
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