The Portuguese Foreign Minister, João Gomes Cravinho, and his counterparts in Ireland, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Spain and Sweden, signed a letter to Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for the Neighbourhood and Enlargement Policy, according to Politico.
In the document, dated April 8, the signatories defend that the objective of the European Union (EU), and of the international community, should be to “strengthen the Palestinian authority”. In this sense, the letter expresses that the “continued delay” in the provision of support to Palestine threatens to have the opposite effect of the intended objective, so they call for funding “as soon as possible”.
Not broad support
According to the group of signatories, the “conditionality” in the education sector, imposed on Palestine's access to European funds, “does not enjoy broad support” among member states. The letter also requests the presentation of the original proposal and the “immediate” release of European funds is demanded.
At stake is a controversy over Palestinian school textbooks, for allegedly containing anti-Semitic messages and incitement to violence. An internal discussion is therefore taking place around the conditioning of financial support to Palestine, through changes to the content of its textbooks.
In the letter submitted in duplicate to the President of the European Commission, von der Leyen, the 15 countries call for a return to the December 15 proposal, at the risk of “undermining, or even reversing” the progress achieved so far. Since the Palestinian authorities have already committed to the education reform program, the new measure risks harming dialogue with Palestinians “on this and other issues”, it reads.
In the opposite direction, a letter signed by 32 MEPs alleges that European funds must not be used to improperly finance incitement to violence.
In this letter, signed by Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, president of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel interparliamentary group, it is mentioned that for several years the school books of the Palestinian authorities “incite schoolchildren to hate Jews and imitate terrorists”, and clarifies that while they support funding for Palestine, this must not be done improperly.