By Ria Novosti
Israeli will freeze its annual contributions to the UNESCO budget after the UN cultural body granted membership to Palestine, the prime minister’s office said on Thursday.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is the first UN body to recognize Palestine since its statehood bid in the United Nations in September, which was ultimately vetoed by the U.S. in the Security Council.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today ordered that Israel’s $2 million-per-annum participation in the budget of UNESCO be frozen,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
Netanyahu ordered to direct those funds “to cooperative initiatives towards the same goals in the region.”
The statement quoted Netanyahu as saying that the vote to accept Palestine as its 195th member “will not advance peace; but will only push it further away.”
“The only way to reach peace is through direct negotiations without preconditions,” the Israeli premier said.
Before the vote to grant full membership to the Palestinian National Autonomy (PNA), the United States and Israel threatened to cut off funding for UNESCO in response. On Monday Israel refused to accept UNESCO’s decision and threatened retaliatory measures.
The U.S. and Canada also froze their UNESCO funding earlier this week.
Palestine’s membership in the UN cultural body comes a month after it filed a statehood membership bid in the United Nations, which was later blocked by a U.S. veto in the Security Council.