Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that the PA's
acceptance as a full member to UNESCO represents support for freedom and
"This vote is not directed against anyone, but
represents support for freedom and justice," Abbas said in a statement
to the official news agency WAFA.
PA gains Arab backing for UNESCO membership request
"This vote is for the sake of peace and represents international
consensus on support for the legitimate Palestinian national rights of
our people, the foremost of which is the establishment of its
independent state," he added.
The United Nations' cultural agency decided on Monday to give
the Palestinians full membership of the body, a vote that will boost
their bid for recognition as a state at the United Nations.
is the first UN agency the Palestinians have joined as a full member
since Abbas applied for full membership of the United
Nations on Sept. 23.
United States, Canada, Germany and Holland voted against Palestinian
membership. Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France voted
in favor. Britain and Italy abstained.
US ambassador to
the UN Susan Rice called the vote "deeply damaging" to the UN cultural
agency and "no substitute for direct negotiations."
highlighted divisions over foreign policy within the European Union,
some of whose 27 members voted for and some against Palestinian
Austrian UNESCO ambassador Ursula Plassnik, whose
country voted in favor, said she regretted the European Union could not
arrive at a common position on the Palestinian issue.
Palestinians obtained backing from two thirds of UNESCO's members to
become the 195th member of UNESCO, with status as "an observer entity".
Of 173 countries that voted from a possible 185, 107 voted in favor, 14
voted against, 52 abstained and 12 were absent.
representatives of the 58-member board has voted in favor of putting the
matter to a vote earlier this month, with four - the United States,
Germany, Romania and Latvia - voting against and 14 abstaining.
"This resolution is a tragedy for UNESCO...UNESCO deals in science and
not science fiction and nevertheless (UNESCO) adopted the science
fiction reality," said Nimrod Barkan, Israel's ambassador to UNESCO.
Israel has said the Palestinian bid would amount to politicization of
the agency that would undermine its ability to carry out its mandate.