Today concludes the "United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine," convened at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris. Click here for the press release, distributed last week by the United Nations Department of Public Information.
UNESCO, which is involved in the protection of historical and cultural landmarks, has a history of denying Israeli and Jewish connections to holy sites. There has been concern that Palestinian membership to UNESCO, which was granted last fall, would further promote this agenda and lead to additional conflict over religious sites throughout Jerusalem.
During the last couple of years, the Palestinians have been pursing a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), as opposed to engaging in direct, bilateral negotiations with Israel. Part of the initiative has been to seek international recognition of statehood from other nations, the U.N. and its member agencies.
Despite the Palestinians' pending membership application to the United Nations General Assembly, UNESCO became the first agency to approve a Palestinian membership application—accepting the Palestinians as a "member state". American and UNESCO officials tried unsuccessfully to prevent the Palestinian membership vote, which required a cut-off of American funds to the organization.
The Palestinians' U.N. membership application has been pending in order for the Quartet—comprised of the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia—to facilitate peace negotiations. Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated that talks are essential. However, it is yet to be seen how Israel's new coalition government and the potential Palestinian unity government will affect this process. Date: 6/1/2012