UK Slashes Aid to Palestinians Over Incitement Against Israel

London cut more than half of its funding to UNRWA last week from $57 million to $28 million

By Yossi Aloni | | Topics: palestinians, UN
Photo: Wissam Nassar/Flash90

Philippe Lazzarini, the United Nations High Commissioner for Palestine Affairs, said in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian that the cuts are the result of reviews of the Palestinian Authority curriculum used by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which found that the organization “is sometimes promoting vicious political attacks, usually through the [school] curriculum.”

Britain was the third largest contributor to the UNRWA in 2020. The decision adds to the complete cessation of all British funding to the PA’s coffers last month.

Lazzarini added that UNRWA started the current school year with “critical injuries” toward Israel. The issue of UNRWA’s study materials was on the public agenda earlier this year after the head of the agency was forced to approve in January the findings of the publication of the IMPACT-se Research and Policy Institute report that first analyzed original and UNRWA-branded educational materials that were found to be full of hatred, antisemitism, incitement to jihad and violence and free of any material that promotes peace, peacemaking and tolerance. He admitted that UNRWA was printing and teaching “inappropriate” content that was “accidentally” included in the curriculum that was used during the Corona period.

Foreign Policy magazine published an article on Friday about a visit to an UNRWA school in East Jerusalem, where students told the magazine that they were learning to glorify terrorists, praise martyrdom, and reject the two-state solution. The visit was interrupted by UNRWA school administrators when the reporters tried to talk to students about their curriculum. The magazine was later told that its staff was no longer welcome at the school.

British Under-Secretary of State James Doddridge confirmed in June of this year, referring to the contents of Palestinian textbooks used by UNRWA, “that there continues to be anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic content” and that this was “unacceptable to Parliament and the government.”

In June of this year, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken confirmed that UNRWA “distributes anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli information in its educational materials.” He described UNRWA’s hate content as “abuse of the system” and said the US was “determined that UNRWA will undergo very necessary reforms.”

In April, the European Union Parliament became the world’s first legislature to adopt a formal condemnation of UNRWA due to incitement to hatred and violence in study materials and demanded “immediate removal” of the school textbooks.

Canada and Australia have also launched formal UNRWA investigations this year into antisemitism and incitement in UNRWA textbooks.

IMPACT-se Institute executive director Marcus Schaf said: “Policymakers in the US and Europe are lining up to condemn the hatred in the PA textbooks used by UNRWA. The head of the organization Philip Lazarini faced the European Union Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee in September and admitted that anti-Semitism, intolerance, and a series of terrorist acts are part of the Palestinian Authority’s textbooks taught at UNRWA schools. The obvious remedy would be to remove hatred and create a curriculum of peace and tolerance, instead of incitement and blaming others. But change is unlikely to occur while the responsibility for this remains in UNRWA’s hands as the agency’s teachers themselves are producing the extreme materials just like those in the Palestinian Authority.”

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