UNESCO grants full membership to the non-state of Palestine

US pulls UNESCO funding. (But how long until Obama sneaks it back in?)

NY POST  The UN’s cultural agency voted to admit Palestine as a full member Monday in a move that could see the body lose millions of dollars in US funding — more than a fifth of its budget. As a result, she said the US will not make a scheduled $60 million payment to UNESCO in November.

The vote at UNESCO’s general assembly was carried by 107 votes in favor of admission and 14 votes against, with 52 abstentions. For its membership to take effect, Palestine must sign and ratify the organization’s constitution in London, UNESCO said in a statement.

France, which had voiced serious doubts about the motion, approved it along with almost all Arab, African, Latin American and Asian nations, including China and India. Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia and Germany voted against, while Japan and Britain abstained.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al Maliki, who was at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters for the vote, hailed “a historic moment that gives Palestine back some of its rights,” while Israel said the move damaged hopes for peace.

Israeli envoy Nimrod Barkan said Israel would likely join the US in withdrawing funds — the Jewish state contributes around three percent of UNESCO’s budget — which would “make it impossible for UNESCO to fulfill its mission.” (Good!)

He warned that those who voted for the resolution would lose influence over Israel. “It certainly will weaken their ability to have any influence on the Israeli position,” Barkan said.

“Today’s [Monday’s] vote at UNESCO to admit the Palestinian Authority is premature and undermines the international community’s shared goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, wrote on Twitter, “Today’s [Monday’s] vote to grant Palestinian membership in #UNESCO is no substitute for direct negotiations, but it is deeply damaging to UNESCO.”

US ambassador to UNESCO David Killion added that “this action … will complicate our ability to support UNESCO programs.” (Time to  pull ALL funding and quit the UN) Two laws passed by the US in the 1990s ban the financing of any UN organization that accepts Palestine as a full member.

Earlier, UNESCO director general Irina Bokova said she was very concerned about the possible withdrawal of US funding. “This would have serious consequences. Programs would have to be cut, our budget would have to be rebalanced,” she said. (Excellent!)

The US only returned to UNESCO in 2003, having boycotted the organization since 1984 over “growing disparity between US foreign policy and UNESCO goals.”