Israel advances bills to tighten control over Palestinian schools

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  June 1, 2023

Proposed bills would increase background checks on teachers and make it harder for schools to obtain licensing.

The Israeli parliament has advanced two bills that would bring Palestinian schools and staff in Israel under increased scrutiny from the security and intelligence services.

If passed, one of the bills proposed on Wednesday would require the Education Ministry to carry out background security checks on potential teachers.

The bill would authorize a committee, after conducting a hearing, to rescind the appointment of a teacher or dismiss a school staff member if they “identify with a terror organization” or expressed support for the armed struggle of an enemy country.

It also requires potential teachers to prove they have no “affinity for terrorism”.

The second bill sets stricter guidelines that would make obtaining a teaching license much harder.

The licensing of schools would be dependent on whether they accommodate “the fundamental requirements of the Israeli school system”.

The bill states the reason for the tougher criteria was to counter: “The fertile ground of wild incitement that exists in the schools in which the Palestinian curriculum is taught in East Jerusalem.”

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved both bills earlier this week. 

According to Haaretz, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said the move is a step towards reinstating the internal security service Shin Bet’s supervision of the Palestinian school system in Israel, which was discontinued in 2005.

Since coming to power earlier this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has introduced a raft of legislation aimed at appeasing the far right in Israel.

This has included legislation that violates the rights of Palestinians and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Earlier this month, Israeli lawmakers pushed a new bill that would see flying the Palestinian flag punishable by up to one year in prison.

In February, the Knesset passed the first stage of a bill to stop funding non-essential medical treatment for Palestinians in Israeli prisons.