U.S. cuts UNESCO funding over Palestinian question
UNESCO voted to make Palestine a full member of the organization.
In a display of protest, and in accord with the law, the US government has cut off tens of millions of dollars in funding to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after that body voted to admit Palestine as a full member.
UNESCO is being played by the Palestinians in their bid for statehood.
The Palestinian question received 107 yes votes during a meeting in Paris with only 14 countries voting against it. There were 52 abstentions. The vote gives full membership in the UNESCO to Palestine, which has enjoyed observer status since 1974. It will allow the Palestinians to register particular locations such as the Church of the Nativity in UNESCO's world heritage register. Palestinians advance that claim and are saying the decision will help Palestine to preserve world heritage sites.
It should be made clear that UNESCO's vote does not admit Palestine to the UN itself.
Israel, the US, Canada, and several European allies voted against granting full membership to Palestine. The UK abstained, and the French voted in favor of the bid.
US law forbids the financing of any organization that votes in favor of Palestinian statehood. As a consequence of this, the US immediately announced that it would cut funding to UNESCO. Undoubtedly, the cuts will be painfully felt. UNESCO officials were aware of this before the vote, but proceeded anyway.
The Palestinian move to gain recognition in UNESCO is a political power play, it is not about preserving world heritage sites such as the Church of the Nativity.
Analysts speculate that the Palestinians are trying to get more credibility in the world form. By obtaining recognition in small organizations such as UNESCO, they believe it will help their final bid for state could in the UN.
American officials have expressed dismay at the decision to grant Palestine full membership status in UNESCO. Victoria Nuland, the US State Department spokesperson who announced the stoppage of payments to UNESCO also said, "the United States remains steadfast in its support for the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state, but such a state can only be realized through direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians."
While the Palestinian state wants official recognition, it has a long way to go. While many members of the UN see little problem with awarding statehood to the Palestinians, those closest to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict argue that the Palestinian state is not behaving as such. On a near daily basis, Palestinian terrorists fire rockets into Israel terrorizing the population, destroying property, and occasionally claiming lives. Such acts of terrorism prompt Israeli retaliation against terrorists targets in Palestinian territory. As long as the Palestinian leadership fails to control their own internal state security, the wisdom of granting them statehood remains dubious at best.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: UNESCO, US, Palestine, statehood, funding, UN
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