Tel Aviv schools told to remove maps showing border with West Bank

Official maps in Israel do not show the 1967 green line border, and officials want schools to comply

The Tel Aviv municipality has vowed to continue displaying maps in its classrooms that show the border between Israel and the occupied West Bank despite opposition from Israel’s education ministry.

Even though East Jerusalem remains the only part of the West Bank — captured from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War — annexed by Israel, official Israeli maps do not show the “green line” demarcation border.

In advance of the new school year on September 1st, Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai ordered the new maps printed by the municipality to hang in some 2,000 classrooms.

“It is important to us that the students get to know the limits of Israeli sovereignty and the complex reality in the areas where Jewish citizens of Israel live alongside Arabs under the control of the Palestinian Authority,” Mr Huldai wrote in a letter to schools.


The map, he said, can be used “for historical, geographical, linguistic discourse — and even topical issues, about alliances, agreements, conflicts, and policy issues that are at the heart of public discourse.”

He refused an order from the education ministry to remove the maps.

“This is an amateur and non-professional map, invented by the Tel Aviv municipality,” the municipality said. “This is reflected in the cartography and the trending use of the term ‘sovereignty line’.” The ministry said the map was not submitted to it for approval, and therefore was not approved for study or for use as a poster on classroom walls.

“Publishing these maps has the purpose of taking a certain political position or promoting an agenda, which contradicts the educational principles,” said Dalit Stauber, the director general of the education ministry.

More than 500,000 Jews live in some 130 settlements across the West Bank, which they consider the Biblical heartland granted by God to the Jews.

The settlers were critical of the move by the Tel Aviv mayor.

“The mayor of Tel Aviv Ron Huldai is referring to a line which is irrelevant and does not represent the consciousness of the Israeli public,” said Shlomo Ne’eman, head of the Etzion settlement bloc, south of Jerusalem. “Let’s remember that in the last Knesset election Huldai failed on a national level and quit because he did not receive the trust of the general voting public. Now from his perch in Tel Aviv he is trying to manipulate consciousness in regard to the inheritance of our ancestors.”

But Tel Aviv officials defended the map, as the standoff with the education ministry continued.

“Instead of censoring reality, the map allows it to be discussed,” said deputy Tel Aviv mayor Chen Arieli. “To raise active citizens, they have to understand the region — which includes the green line.” The map, she added, “will enable students to better understand the reality we live in; that should be in everyone’s interest”.

The map is also being distributed to Arab schools in Jaffa, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Tel Aviv municipality.

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Jerusalem