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Palestine Joins UNESCO

Hannah Madans |
October 31, 2011 | 11:44 a.m. PDT

Associate News Editor

courtesy Creative Commons
courtesy Creative Commons
Palestine became a full member of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with a vote of 107-14 and 52 abstentions Monday, which will cost the group a fifth of its budget, The Daily Beast reported. UNESCO is the cultural and educational body within the United Nations.

The move angered United States and Israel officials. Nimrod Barkan, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, called the vote a tragedy, according to The Daily Beast.

The Obama administration announced it would cut off funding for UNESCO, reported the Associated Press. A planned November payment of $60 million by the Obama administration has been canceled. The U.S. currently provides roughly 22 percent of UNESCO’s budget, or $80 million a year.

The Obama administration cut funding for the organization because U.S. law bans the funding of an organization that includes Palestine before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached.

The U.S. has pulled funding from UNESCO before when the U.S. left UNESCO under President Ronald Reagan, AP reports. The U.S. rejoined under President George W. Bush.

The vote Monday came with some surprises, such as France’s “yes” vote, the AP reported. Unsurprisingly, the U.S., Israel, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany all voted “no.”

UNESCO protects historic heritage sites, which could cause some budget woes and problems with Palestine-Israel historic sites.

Many politicians in the U.S. said the decision undermines goals for a comprehensive Middle East peace plan and could delay the goal of restarting direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine, the AP reported.

Palestine is seeking full membership in the U.N., which the U.S. had announced it will veto.

UNESCO’s vote Monday is final and will take effect when Palestine signs UNESCO’s founding charter.


Reach associate news editor Hannah Madans here.


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