UNESCO grants full membership to PalestineOctober 31st, 2011 - 9:28 pm ICT by BNO News
PARIS (BNO NEWS) — The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO on Monday voted to grant full membership to Palestine despite strong objections from Israel and the United States.
Palestine is currently an observer at UNESCO but a group of Arab states previously submitted a recommendation to the organization’s executive committee to request full membership. The proposal received 107 votes in favor of admission, 14 votes against and 52 abstentions.
Admission to UNESCO for states which are not members of the United Nations requires a recommendation by the organization’s executive committee and a two thirds majority vote in favor by member states. Abstentions are not considered to be votes, and no member has veto powers.
Among the countries which voted against admission were Israel, the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and Germany. Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France were among the countries which voted in favor while the United Kingdom, Italy and Japan were among those who abstained.
Before Palestine will become a full member, it must sign and ratify UNESCO’s constitution which is open for signature in the archives of the British government in London. Upon signature, Palestine will become UNESCO’s 195th member state.
The vote was strongly condemned by Israel which rejected the decision. “This is a unilateral Palestinian maneuver which will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement,” a spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The spokesperson added: “This decision will not turn the Palestinian Authority into an actual state yet places unnecessary burdens on the route to renewing negotiations. Israel believes that the correct and only way to make progress in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians is through direct negotiations without preconditions.”
The Israeli government thanked the 14 countries which it said “displayed a sense of responsibility” and opposed UNESCO’s decision. “It is disappointing that the European Union, which is working to renew the direct negotiations and opposes the Palestinian move, could not reach a unified position to prevent this decision,” the spokesperson said.
The U.S. government, which has repeatedly pressed for a two-state resolution, is expected to cut funding to UNESCO as a result of Monday’s decision. A U.S. law passed in the 1990s allows Washington to cut funding to any UN agency which admits Palestine as a full member.
A senior Palestinian official told the German news agency dpa that it sees the vote as a ‘very significant victory.’ “This a triumph of the human spirit in the face of intimidation and coercion,” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told dpa.
Ashrawi added: “There are countries that vote on the basis of principle. I think this is very significant because it sends a clear message that there is a sizeable majority in the world that doesn’t want to victimize the Palestinians and exclude them from the community of nations.”
The move to admit Palestine to UNESCO is part of a broader campaign by Palestine to get recognition as a state by the United Nations. On September 23, Palestine filed a request for a full UN membership even though the United States is likely to veto this.
About 120 out of 193 countries have currently recognized the State of Palestine and those are seen as possible supporters if the UN General Assembly votes on the issue. If the UN Security Council resolution to recognize Palestine is approved, Palestine would become the 194th member of the United Nations.
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- Israel declines to accept Palestine's Unesco membership - Nov 01, 2011
- India reiterates 'unequivocal support' for Palestinian state - Sep 23, 2011
- UAE welcomes Palestine's Unesco membership - Nov 01, 2011
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- Palestine's Unesco membership welcomed in Russia - Nov 01, 2011
- India backs Palestinian bid for UN membership - Oct 01, 2011
- Israel freezes Unesco funding - Nov 03, 2011
- Palestine's Unesco membership reflects global support: Iran - Nov 02, 2011
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