Home inContext UNESCO Votes-In ‘Palestine’

UNESCO Votes-In ‘Palestine’

Samara Greenberg

Members of the UN’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted in favor of admitting the state of Palestine to the organization on Monday with a 107-14 vote and 52 abstentions. The U.S., of course long opposed to the move, voted against the nomination.

In response, U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO David Killion said that the vote will “complicate” U.S. support of the agency. Indeed, U.S. law prohibits Washington from funding UN-affiliated bodies that accept Palestinian membership. And with the U.S. currently supplying 22 percent of UNESCO’s annual budget, or roughly $80 million a year, the agency will certainly feel Washington’s leave.

UNESCO’s 36th General Conference in Paris on Oct. 25, 2011.

The vote in favor will be seen as a victory for the Palestinian Authority in the run-up to the UN Security Council’s vote on Palestinian statehood. Like the larger UN body, however, UNESCO has often faced criticism for being politicized, corrupt, and anti-American — which forced President Reagan to withdraw the U.S. from the organization in 1984. Washington only re-joined under President Bush in 2003.

Prior to Monday, the U.S., EU, and even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reportedly asked PA President Mahmoud Abbas to delay the vote. Abbas did no such thing, however, highlighting Washington’s loss of influence over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or President Abbas’ complete intransigence — or both.

Either way, the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace are looking slimmer by the day.