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UNESCO Approves Palestinian Membership

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UNESCO Approves Palestinian Membership

Today, in a vote of 107-14 (with 52 abstentions), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization General Conference approved the Palestinian membership application. The United States, Israel, Canada and Germany were among those who opposed the measure. Notable votes in favor included Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France. The United Kingdom abstained.

“Israel rejects the decision of the General Assembly of UNESCO of the 31st October accepting Palestine as a member state of the organization,” announced the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a written statement. “This is a unilateral Palestinian maneuver which will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement.

“This decision will not turn the Palestinian Authority into an actual state yet places unnecessary burdens on the route to renewing negotiations. Israel believes that the correct and only way to make progress in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians is through direct negotiations without preconditions. Consequently Israel welcomed the Quartet's declaration of the 23rd September and is ready to work on this basis. The Palestinian move at UNESCO, as with similar such steps with other UN bodies, is tantamount to a rejection of the international community’s efforts to advance the peace process.”

The U.S. State Department announced last week, “We’ve made the point that there are very clear redlines in U.S. legislation and that if those are crossed in UNESCO, that the legislation is triggered.” American and UNESCO officials tried unsuccessfully to prevent the vote, which will require a cut-off of American funds to the organization. Today, American Ambassador to UNESCO David T. Killion reiterated that the vote for Palestinian membership was premature and will undoubtedly “complicate [the United States’] ability to support UNESCO.”

UNESCO, which is involved in the protection of historical and cultural landmarks, has released decisions in the past that denied Israeli and Jewish connections to holy sites. Palestinian membership would further promote this agenda and would lead to additional conflict over religious sites throughout Jerusalem.

For additional information about the ramifications of the UNESCO vote visit the Hadassah Advocacy website.

Date: 10/31/2011
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