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S&Ds: “EU cannot hit Palestinian students’ rights to education by imposing changes to school textbooks,” says Iratxe García in a letter to Ursula von der Leyen


28 Mar 2022


Global Europe

We cannot hit the right to education. The EU cannot penalise Palestinian students and youth by conditioning the disbursement of an annual EUR 30 million from the European Union’s financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority on imposing changes to school textbooks. This is the main message the president of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Iratxe García Pérez, along with the Greens/EFA and the Left political groups’ leaders, delivered in a letter to the president of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Such a proposal, initially presented by Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, is expected to be discussed this week in the College of Commissioners, potentially leading to a decision that would contradict the positions already expressed by the member states in the Council and by the European Parliament.

The leader of the Socialists and Democrats, Iratxe García MEP, said:

“I expect Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to stop this unilateral initiative from Olivér Várhelyi because it does not represent the EU and it contradicts our efforts to bring understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, and to secure progress in eliminating hate speech and incitement on both sides.

“The Commission knows that Palestinian textbooks generally adhere to UNESCO standards, even if there is room for improvement. What’s important is the positive trend and the positive changes identified by the Georg Eckert Institute last year. We will keep working to eliminate all sorts of racism, or incitement to hatred, but always in a spirit of cooperation with both sides.”

Foreign Committee Standing Rapporteur for Palestine and S&D MEP, Evin Incir, added:

“The choice of Commissioner Várhelyi to ignore the position of both the EU’s co-legislative bodies clearly reveals his own political agenda regarding the EU’s financial support to the Palestinian authorities. It is unacceptable that the conditionality mechanism, also called incentive-based mechanism, would be used in this way.”