Arab donors to UNRWA have cut their donations by 90% — from $200 million in 2018 to a mere $20 million in 2022, and show no signs of reversing course. Meanwhile, the Bidenites have been put on notice by a letter from fifty Congressmen, demanding that the State Department must force the PA to end its “Pay-For-Slay” program, likely through cutting its aid to UNRWA. So far, the Biden administration has provided UNRWA with $618 million. It is obvious that sums given to UNRWA allow the agency to spend more on health and education for the Palestinians, thereby relieving the PA of much of those costs. This violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Taylor Force Act of 2018, which prohibits Washington from giving aid to the PA as long as it continues its “Pay-For-Slay” program.
The Arab states and America are two legs of the tripod supporting the Palestinians, through aid given both to the PA and to UNRWA; the third leg consists of the EU, which has been increasingly unhappy with the antisemitic schoolbooks that the Palestinians have over the last few years promised to revise, yet they never have done so, and until now have suffered no consequences. That European indulgence appears to be over. Both the European Parliament, and powerful members of the European Commission, have declared that the antisemitic schoolbooks must be revised, not in the future but at once, and that the EU is prepared to finally carry out its threat to cut aid the PA. More on the latest expression of dismay with the PA by an EU official, who urges that aid to the Palestinians be suspended in light of the continuing refusal of the PA to remove antisemitic material from its schoolbooks, can be found here: “European Commissioner Expresses Support for Freezing Palestinian Aid,” by Dion J. Pierre, Algemeiner, July 19, 2023:
A cabinet member of the European Commission, a body within the executive of the European Union, has expressed support for suspending aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if its leaders continue refusing to remove antisemitic and violent themes from schoolchildren’s textbooks.
EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi made the comments on Friday, following the European Parliament’s passing last Wednesday two resolutions insisting “that all antisemitic references be deleted and that examples that incite hatred and violence be removed.”…
The EU parliament passed a similar measure in December, declaring that PA curriculum is in tension with European values. The previous year, in May 2021, the body froze aid to the Palestinian Authority for 13 months. Aid resumed the following January, with former European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen insisting that “all the difficulties are gone.”…
In supporting a resumption of aid to the PA which had been frozen since May 2021, Ursula von der Leyen showed just how gullible she was, in announcing that “all the difficulties are gone” – revealing that she actually believed the PA’s assurances that it would revise its schoolbooks. It never did. And now the European are fed up with the PA and no longer can be put off with mere promises. The EU is headed inexorably toward a cutoff in aid that will end only after those PA textbooks have been thoroughly revised.
The European Parliament has come to the end of its tether with the PA’s hollow promises, and is clearly in no mood to trust it.
The Palestinian Authority has never significantly reformed its educational system, according to several reports by Impact-se, a pro-Israel watchdog group, which has continued to find, for example, grammar lessons saying “The Palestinians sacrifice their blood to liberate Jerusalem” and Arabic Drill Cards for 9th graders that say, “When the [Muslim] nation is negligent in protecting al-Aqsa, then the Jews will dare to defile it.” Israel also does not appear on any maps shown to students….
Across the Atlantic, US lawmakers have called for conditioning aid to the Palestinian Authority’s education system, proposing in March the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Accountability and Transparency Act, which would require the US Secretary of State’s certifying that UNRWA is audited by an independent body that determines its schools do not teach antisemitic tropes, employee individuals linked to terrorist organizations, or allow their grounds to be used for terrorist activities.
Proposed in the US Senate and House of Representatives by Sen. James E. Risch (R-ID) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), the bill has yet to be voted on by either body.
The Risch-Roy bill will easily pass both houses of Congress, as easily as the latest bill expressing support for Israel, and denunciation of those who described it as “a racist state” (Pramila Jayapal was not named, but everyone understood the reference), that passed 421-9. The Congressional letter calling for the Bidenites to apply more pressure on the PA to end its “Pay-For-Slay” program does not specify the means to be used, but it can only be financial – that is, Washington greatly reducing, or ending altogether, the money it now gives to UNRWA, much of which is then spent on the health and education of the Palestinians, relieving the PA of that considerable expense.
Now comes the final blow to the PA’s finances. Not only has the European Parliament twice in two years passed resolutions deploring antisemitic contact in the PA’s schoolbooks, demanding that they be revised, but it has also repeated its threat to cut aid to the PA. The PA has managed to ignore this demand until now, but the European Parliament’s two resolutions are the latest sign that it may not be able to flout the European Union’s demands any longer.
And now comes also a blow to the PA delivered by one of the most influential members of the European Commission, Oliver Varhelyi, who has expressed his support for suspending all aid to the PA, as long as it refuses to clean up the antisemitism in its textbooks. The PA may promise yet again to comply, and yet again expect that it can get away with failing to do so, but the European Commission is now furious with the PA’s no longer tolerable little game. It’s been fooled too often. The European Commission now means business, and the PA faces a stark choice: keep its antisemitic schoolbooks essentially unchanged, or face financial catastrophe.