Israel forbids Tel Aviv municipality from posting ‘Green Line’ maps in schools

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  August 25, 2022

The education ministry asks Tel Aviv to remove almost 2,000 maps from classrooms showing the 1949 ceasefire line.

Israel’s Ministry of Education has demanded that schools in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa district not use maps in classrooms showing the 1949 armistice line, which separates the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip from Israel.

The education ministry asked the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality to remove almost 2,000 maps from classrooms and replace them with official maps that do not show the armistice line, also known as the Green Line.

Haaretz reported on Tuesday that the controversial map showed the territory of Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River – with the Green Line demarcating the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan Heights, and the Gaza Strip, areas which Israel occupied in 1967.

The ministry has forbidden the use of the map, saying it was “not submitted for approval by the Ministry of Education, and therefore it is not approved for study or for use as a poster on the walls”.

However, Ron Huldai, the mayor of Tel Aviv, insisted that “the maps will be hung in all classrooms in the schools in the city”.

Huldai wrote to the head of schools in Tel Aviv and Jaffa, telling them “it is important to us that the students know the limits of Israeli sovereignty and the complex reality in areas where Jewish citizens of Israel and the Arabs under the control of the Palestinian Authority live side by side”.

Tel Aviv’s neighbourhoods, educational institutions and the train line also feature on the map. Palestinian schools in the city of Jaffa had received a map in Arabic.

‘Exceptional’ move

Officials at the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality began working on the map showing the Green Line almost two years ago. 

Chen Arieli, the deputy mayor of Tel Aviv, told Haaretz: “Instead of censoring reality, the map enables a discourse on it. In order to raise active citizens, they must understand the space, which also includes the Green Line.

“You can’t force the schools to use the map, but we have an obligation to allow the discussion on it.”

However, the education ministry described it as “an amateur and non-professional map invented by the municipality”.

“The only authority authorized to determine Israel’s maps is [the] Israel mapping centre,” it said, adding that schools should use maps approved by the ministry as part of the educational curricula.

Haaretz reported that the Israel mapping centre has refused to reveal where the Green Line runs on its maps, claiming that making this public would “endanger Israel’s foreign relations”.

Since the 1967 Middle East war, Israel decided to omit the Green Line from its maps, making the Palestinian territories it occupied appear as being part of the State of Israel.

In 2007, Yuli Tamir, the former education minister, ordered that maps in schools show the Green Line, amid criticism within the government. However, she did not last long enough in the post to see her plan go through, as Gideon Saar replaced her.

Against this background, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality maps showing the Green Line are considered “exceptional”, according to Haaretz.