Education was thrust into the centre of the Israeli-Palestinian battle over Jerusalem's future last week with the leak of a government proposal to impose an Israeli curriculum on 24,000 Palestinian children in municipal-run schools in the east of the city.
East Jerusalem was seized by Israel during the six-day war in 1967 and pupils currently study a Jordanian curriculum.
Faisal Husseini, Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs, warned that violence could flare if the Israeli government tried to replace the Jordanian curriculum with the one that is now studied by Arabs in the rest of Israel. Comprising one-fifth of the country's 1.8 million pupils, they have to study Jewish history, religion and literature.
The proposal was prepared months ago by officials acting under the education ministry's director general, at the request of a ministerial committee on Jerusalem chaired by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but has yet to be submitted for approval.
Faisal Husseini said Palestinians would oppose any Israeli move to change the current curriculum: "It is not their city, and we are not their people."
Education minister Yitzhak Levy told The TES that no decisions had been taken, and that nothing would be imposed by force. Internal security minister Avigdor Kahalani doubted the idea would be approved but added that it was important that the curriculum taught about Israel and did not encouragepeople to threaten it.
The Palestinians are developing their own curriculum for staged introduction into West Bank and Gaza schools from next year.