Palestine, UNESCO, and the U.S. are on a collision course. It will be instructive to see which one blinks first. U.S. law calls for cutting funding for any UN body that supports a Palestinian state. UNESCO is poised to do so this week. If it does, the U.S. would be forced to withhold its contribution equal to 22% of the organization’s annual budget, $70-million. Doing so would cripple it, forcing it to curtail international aid programs that support U.S. values throughout the world including in third-world countries like Afghanistan.
Who will blink? If you believe the Obama administration, the U.S. can’t. The law constrains it. UNESCO could modify its proposal to accord Palestine less than full state recognition or the Palestinians could agree to accept something less. I strongly support full recognition for Palestine as part of the a gradual process leading to international recognition. It’s critical that UNESCO lead the way on this so that the General Assembly may follow.
The U.S. should be put to the test. Force them to withdraw the funding and make them look like the hypocrites they are for acting in ways that directly contradict stated national policy supporting a Palestinian state. Make Republicans in Congress pay for their intransigence in supporting this betrayal of western democratic values in the world arena. Cut UNESCO programs temporarily if you have to. Ask Arab states to replenish the lost funds. I’ll do my own part with a personal donation and ask readers to do the same if the vote goes in favor of Palestine.