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Fayyad welcomes Israeli, Palestinian textbooks study

Feb. 4, 2013 12:15 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 5, 2013 5:02 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The head of the Palestinian Authority government welcomed a joint Israeli-Palestinian-US research study into school textbooks in Israel and Palestine, released on Monday.

The study, commissioned by the inter-religious group Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, faulted both Israeli and Palestinian authorities for showing the other side of the conflict as an enemy.

But it said the main problem lay in the presentation of a one-sided narrative, and instances of dehumanizing or demonizing content were rare on both sides.

PA premier Salam Fayyad said the study "proves what we have repeatedly affirmed in response to allegations (that Palestinian textbooks incite against Israel)."

The PA's education ministry fully cooperated with the study because of "our firm conviction of the significance of the issue and the need to discuss it on objective and professional bases, rather than preconceived notions and stereotypes," he said.

Fayyad also said he had instructed the ministry to study the report and use its recommendations as a guide for updating its curriculum.

Israeli leaders have long drawn on the accusation that Palestinian textbooks are littered with incitement against Israelis and the state of Israel to demonstrate that the Western-backed PA is not really committed to peace.

Surprise success in January's Israeli election, Yesh Atid, said in its party platform that Palestinian textbooks must be dealt with as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.

The joint study was rejected by Israel's ministry of education in January, which called it "biased, unprofessional and significantly lacking in objectivity," and referred to "bodies that wish to slander the Israeli education system and the state of Israel."

Fayyad berated the Israeli government for rejecting the study and its recommendations. He called on Israeli authorities to "desist from attempts to detract from the objectivity and professionalism of the study because its conclusions are not in line with its standing preconceived positions."

The study was led by Palestinian associate professor Sami Adwan, Israeli professor Daniel Bar-Tal -- both education experts -- and Bruce E. Wexler, professor emeritus of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine.
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