EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell refuses to bow to the demand that the Palestinians must remove anti-Semitic content from textbooks in order to receive billions in aid. He would rather they get three billion without conditions. It is not the first time that Western countries have made such a demand and with the Palestinians not complying with the request.
When the EU adopted its budget this week, a demand was included that “problematic and hateful content” in Palestinian school books and teaching materials must be removed before the aid of 300 million euros per year could be paid out. The amount corresponds to almost NOK 3.5 billion at today’s exchange rate.
It was EU Commissioner Olivier Varhely, who is responsible for relations with the EU’s neighbours, who announced a new examination of the school books.
But this causes Josep Borrell to react strongly on behalf of the Palestinians.
The Palestinian authorities are in a very stressful situation and risk bankruptcy if aid from the EU is prevented. As foreign minister, I will not allow this, says Borrell to the AFP news agency in connection with an informal meeting of foreign ministers in Stockholm.
The EU’s foreign affairs service has already dealt with this issue with the Palestinian authorities. We don’t need a new study or other things that could delay the payment, says Borrell. He points out that a delay in EU payments two years ago meant that people missed out on the necessary help.
Borrell overrules his own administration and signals that the Palestinians do not have to comply with the demand to remove anti-Semitism. It is of course also a signal to Israel about what the EU prioritises and tolerates.
Parts of the EU’s top management are in the process of coming to terms with Israel.
Borrell is a socialist.