As UNESCO Moves Toward Palestinian Recognition, Congress Threatens To Cut Funding – OpEd


By Lizzy Ratner

While all eyes have been on the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood at the United Nations, the PA has been busy pursuing other creative, if less formal and significant, ways to promote the idea and fact of a Palestinian state. Yesterday the Palestinian National Council won “Partner for Democracy Status” in the Council of Europe, the foremost human rights organization on the continent. And today the board of UNESCO, the UN’s main cultural body, voted in favor of the Palestinian’s draft resolution for membership in the organization (similar to their situation in the UN at large, the Palestinians have had observer status since 1974). The resolution will now be submitted to UNESCO’s 193-member General Conference for a vote sometime within the next month.

From Reuters:

To ramp up pressure on the United Nations, Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) has been looking at alternative institutions that may recognize their sought-after statehood status — a campaign triggered by a breakdown of peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel last year.


In order to gain full membership, so-called “states” that are not members of the United Nations may be admitted to UNESCO with a two-thirds majority of the General Conference.

It was not clear whether Palestine would need to be a recognized state for its UNESCO bid to succeed.

The Palestinian draft membership resolution won by a margin of 40 votes to four, with 14 abstentions. The United States was chief among the “No” votes, alongside Germany, Latvia, and Romania. Not surprisingly, Florida Congresswoman and funds-slasher-in-chief, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, has already started flashing her scissors:

It is deeply disappointing to see UNESCO, which has reformed itself in recent years, poised to support this dangerous Palestinian scheme. The U.S. must strongly oppose this move and make clear that any decision to upgrade the Palestinian mission’s status by UNESCO or any other UN entity will lead to a cutoff of U.S. funds to that entity.

(H/T Paul Mutter)


Mondoweiss is a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, chiefly from a progressive Jewish perspective. Mondoweiss is maintained by Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz. Weiss lives in New York state and Horowitz lives in New York City.

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