Monday, October 31, 2011

UNESCO Grants Palestinian Authority Membership While Rockets Fall On Israel Fired From Gaza

UNESCO has voted to recognize the PA for full membership. The international organization may well lose US funding (a longstanding US law prohibits funding to int'l organizations if they recognize PA before statehood through negotiation).
Legislation dating back more than 15 years stipulates a complete cutoff of American financing to any United Nations agency that accepts the Palestinians as a full member. Unesco — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — depends on the United States for 22 percent of its budget, about $70 million a year.

After the vote, David T. Killion, the American ambassador, said that the United States “remains deeply committed” to Unesco. But he said that Monday’s decision, which he repeatedly called premature, “will complicate our ability to support Unesco.” The United States will seek other means to support the agency, Mr. Killion said, although he did not offer specifics about any avenues under consideration.

The Obama administration and Unesco had tried to avert the approval and diplomats had desperately negotiated with Congress, the Palestinians and other Unesco member states to find a resolution that would preserve the agency’s budget.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to head off a vote and avoid a cutoff in aid. “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,” the department’s spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said last week.

Unesco, perhaps most famous for designating world heritage sites, is a major global development agency whose missions include promoting literacy, science, clean water and education, including sex education and equal treatment for girls and young women.

In the past, many in the United States and in some allied countries viewed the organization as politicized, corrupt and anti-American, antipathy that came to a head in 1984 when President Ronald Reagan withdrew American membership.

The United States rejoined the organization under President George W. Bush after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

American officials criticized the Palestinian application for recognition, part of its bid for full membership in the United Nations, saying they feared it would lead to more conflict with Israel and further undermine the possibility of peace talks.
The vote wasn't particularly close, and that reflects the way that the international organization is gamed by those who have a beef with Israel and use international organizations as a way to go after Israel.

They accepted that vote despite the US responsibility for paying a hefty percentage of the organization's budget (22%).

Israel may itself reconsider its support for UNESCO, which includes designation of world heritage sites and protecting cultural and historical sites. UNESCO designation is also quite politicized, especially relating to sites in Israel and the territories.

Yet, no one takes the Palestinians to task or holds them accountable when they engage in ongoing terrorism. Just days after the prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit was concluded, and after threats were made by Hamas and other terror groups to kidnap more Israelis, the rockets are again slamming into Israel. The latest barrage hit near Ashkelon after being fired from Gaza. Again.

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