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Palestinian School Curriculum: Radicalisation — [Mark Pritchard in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:21 pm on 10th March 2020.

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Photo of Peter Gibson Peter Gibson Conservative, Darlington 3:21 pm, 10th March 2020

I join my hon. Friends in thanking my hon. Friend Jonathan Gullis for securing today’s debate; it is right for the House to consider this important motion. By considering the worrying levels of radicalisation in Palestinian schools today, we are supporting the peace brokers of tomorrow. I draw Members’ attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, as I have travelled to Israel and Palestine on a fact-finding trip.

One thing that the House can do is to agree to denounce any form of hate speech or radicalisation in any curriculum. We must seek to stop radicalisation in schools to curtail extremism where we can. We must recognise that there is a dangerous level of problematic content in the Palestinian curriculum, and that only through diplomatic pressure can we prevent long-term escalation and conflict.

The radicalisation of the Palestinian curriculum is shocking, and I am appalled by the content that is being taught to children from a young age. At its heart, the curriculum repeats a call to arms and a stark antisemitism that risks stability in the region. Calling for teenagers to give their lives for jihad falls far short of UN standards, or indeed any acceptable standards. We have heard the horrific details of how violence is perpetuated through the curriculum.

The radicalisation of the curriculum is, perhaps, most worrying when it rejects the viability of peace in the region. The new curriculum systematically alters history to remove the validity of lasting peace. It no longer mentions previous treaties from the 20th century. The curriculum must acknowledge those treaties to encourage a viable two-state solution in the future. Further important international agreements on the creation of the state of Israel, and Jewish cultural and historical roots in the region, have been omitted.

It is vital for the long-term stability of the region that the school curriculum should teach that peace is a real possibility. That can be achieved only through the recognition of multiple cultural and religious connections to the land. By removing the validity of a two-state system, the Palestinian Authority seek to create a generation of nationalists. Rather than promoting peace and prosperity, the curriculum pushes for martyrdom and jihad. The omission of historical accords does nothing to help to promote lasting peace.

It is not right that British international aid—British taxpayers’ money—is going towards supporting a curriculum that actively perpetuates hate. Britain has always supported developing countries through education, and I want that to continue long into the future. It is, however, vital that the Government should limit spending where there is clear evidence—