President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen meets with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. (Atef Safadi/Pool via AP) President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen meets with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. (Atef Safadi/Pool via AP)
Ursula von der Leyen, Mohammad Shtayyeh

Palestinians insist $220 million in EU aid is not conditional on reforming antisemitic curriculum.

By Pesach Benson, United with Israel

In mid-June, the European Union released financial aid to Ramallah that had been held up by a dispute over Palestinian curriculum inspiring violence and hatred of Jews.

And now, Palestinian officials are claiming a political victory, saying the funds were released with no requirement that the Palestinian Authority change its teaching material.

The $220 million in aid was earmarked to cover the salaries and pensions of some civil servants, support hospitals, and assist needy families, according to Euronews.

But the release of the funds was held up for six months as senior EU official Oliver Varhelyi sought to condition the assistance on the PA reforming its educational material to remove antisemitism and incitement and glorification of violence.

A European Union analysis last year found that PA textbooks removed previously-included references to Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements, trafficked in antisemitic tropes, and glorified terrorists convicted of killing Israelis as heroes.

The release of aid covering the year 2021 was approved by the European Commission in mid-June. However it isn’t clear if the conditions were applied or not. Details of the vote’s results have not been publicly released and the EU’s top envoy to the Palestinians, Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, has not commented.

Meanwhile, statements by a number Palestinian officials spotted by Palestine Media Watch insisted that the funds were released unconditionally and touted the development as a political victory.

PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh posted on Facebook “We thank the EU and its states. This agreement is important, because it was completed without conditions.”

Appearing on Palestinian television, PA Minister of Public Works and Building Muhammad Ziyara insisted, “This [EU funding] is more of a political victory than a financial achievement. The challenge was that we would relinquish our rights, our positions, and our principles, both on the issue of our duty (i.e., reward payments) towards the families of the Martyrs and the prisoners, and also towards the Palestinian curricula and the Palestinian narrative.”

In response, Itamar Marcus of Palestine Media Watch blasted the EU.

“While the EU may attempt to justify its renewed aid to the PA citing humanitarian concerns, the PA itself admits it prioritizes its terror reward payments over the welfare of its law-abiding citizens,” Marcus wrote.

“The EU certainly understands that their funding of salaries and allowances to needy Palestinians is what enables the PA to use other money to reward terror and terrorists.”