Haviv Rettig, THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 20, 2007
"You can't have agreements while this kind of hatred is inculcated in the children," Knesset Education Committee Chairman Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad) said on Tuesday after seeing new 12th-grade textbooks published by the Palestinian Authority late last year.
"I intend to demand from Prime Minister [Ehud Olmert] that he present the findings [of a new report on the textbooks] to Abu Mazen [PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas] at their next meeting," Melchior said.
Melchior's statements at the Knesset followed the presentation of Palestinian Media Watch saying that Palestinian 12th grade textbooks teach that hating Israel and pursuing its destruction are religious duties.
PMW director Itamar Marcus told the Education Committee it was the first time the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been depicted in Palestinian schoolbooks as a religious, rather than a territorial, conflict.
"According to these books," Marcus told the MKs, "the war over this land is a war for Muslim land, and will end only with the resurrection of the dead." The books teach that "recognition of Israel is forbidden by religion," he said.
Committee members promised to pressure international donors, particularly Belgium, whose contributions receive specific mention in the textbooks, to suspend their aid as long as such incitement continues in PA textbooks.
According to the report, the schoolbooks, the products of the official education arm of the PA, written by Fatah-appointed officials at the Center for Developing the Palestinian Curricula and published by the PA Ministry of Higher Education, are also used by schools in east Jerusalem that are under the jurisdiction of - and receive funding from - Israel's Education Ministry.
Shlomo Alon, deputy head of the Pedagogic Secretariat in the Education Ministry, told the lawmakers the ministry would investigate whether the books were distributed in east Jerusalem schools and would cut funding for schools found using them.
MK Zeev Elkin (Kadima) called on the government to put in place "sanctions against the PA for such violations [of the Oslo Accords]," which he called "more dangerous than security violations in the long run."
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