Forget Those UNICEF Trick or Treat Boxes This Halloween. Palestinians Get UNESCO Membership in Paris Vote
Round one in the Palestinian Authority (PA) – PLO/Fatah quest for full UN Membership occurred in Paris, today. The New York Timesreported that the PA was granted full membership in UNESCO by a vote of 107 in favor, with 14 against with 52 abstentions. According to Reuters, US, Canada, Germany vote against, Britain abstained, while Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France voted in favor of Palestinian membership. Under US law, this would mean withdrawal of UNESCO funding. The biennial budget for UNESCO is $640 million. Loss of the US share, approximately 22%, could mean a shortfall of $70 million for 2011 operations.
Note these comments from the striped pants brigade of US diplomats at UNESCO and Secretary of State Clinton:
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.
Today’s UNESCO vote will doubtless embolden the PA in its quest for full membership at the UN General Assembly. A vote on its admittance to the international body is scheduled for next Friday, November 11th. At issue is whether the PA can get a majority of the UN Security and whether the Obama Administration will cast its veto on Palestinian statehood.
Meanwhile, back in the US, if those cute gremlins and goblins tonight on Halloween bring those UNESCO World Children’s’ Fund boxes; politely tell their big sisters and brothers, moms and dads, “no thanks.”