The UK has ended direct funding of Palestinian Authority teachers, but the Middle East Minister has insisted that this decision is not connected to antisemitic material in the curriculum.
Labour MP Andrew Gwynne submitted a written question to Middle East Minister, Conservative James Cleverly, asking “whether his Department has plans to review the allocation of funding to the Palestinian education system following the publication of the Georg Eckert Institute’s report on Palestinian textbooks in June 2021.”
Mr Gwynne was referring to a report commissioned – and unsuccessfully suppressed – by the European Commission that revealed numerous instances of anti-Jewish racism in Palestinian Authority textbooks, including glorification of violence and terrorism against Jews. The report confirmed the findings of other similar investigations in recent years.
In his response, Mr Cleverly said: “Following Official Development Assistance (ODA) prioritisation exercises undertaken in March 2021, the UK no longer provides direct funding to the Palestinian Authority to support the salaries of education workers and health professionals. This decision was not influenced by the publication of the Georg Eckert Institute’s report on Palestinian textbooks published in June 2021. The UK remains firmly committed to ensuring a quality education for Palestinian children, demonstrated by our longstanding support to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and through the British Council.”
The Government has recently said that the findings of the report were “not acceptable to the Government.” This view is in contrast to the excuses for antisemitism in textbooks made by some backbench MPs across parties.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “We welcome an end to the direct British funding of a foreign education system permeated by antisemitic tropes. It is disappointing, however, that the Government did not take the opportunity to emphasise that combating antisemitism was a motivation behind the cut. That, rather than mere cost-cutting, would have sent the strongest message to purveyors of hate abroad.”