After UNESCO, PA to seek membership in other bodies

US concerned Palestinians may court high-profile organizations; Canada will not make up for funding shortfalls.

November 2, 2011 02:52
2 minute read.
Ibrahim Khraisheh

Ibrahim Khraisheh 311 R. (photo credit: Reuters/ Valentin Flauraud)

The Palestinian Authority is seeking membership in 16 more United Nations agencies and organizations, the PA envoy to Geneva, Ibrahim Khraisheh, said on Tuesday.

A PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that after joining UNESCO, the Palestinians have their eyes set on the World Health Organization.

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The official said that the PA minister of health was now preparing an official membership request that would be submitted to the WHO later this month.

Khraisheh’s announcement came one day after UNESCO voted in favor of full membership of the Palestinians in the international agency.

He told The Associated Press that the PA was now hoping to benefit from the UNESCO vote in favor of the Palestinians to apply for membership in 16 more UN agencies and organizations.

Khraisheh did not name the UN bodies that the Palestinians seek to join.

The US, one day after announcing it was suspending funds to UNESCO following its recognition of Palestinian statehood, turned with concern to the other UN institutions that may be courted by the PA.

Speculators in Washington are warning that more critical organizations, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, could be the next targets.

The WHO, the PA’s next agency on its list of requests for recognition, has described American funding as “vital” for its operation.

High-tech representatives already met with State Department representatives to try and understand how to protect their intellectual capital if the US limits or restricts the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) from participation.

In response to Monday’s landslide UNESCO vote, Congresswoman Kay Granger, chairwoman of the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, called upon the Obama administration to enforce the 1994 law barring US contributions to UN institutions that recognized unilaterally-declared Palestinian statehood.

She also called on the administration to act similarly against any other UN organizations that pass similar votes in the future.

It is unlikely that Palestinian funding will be further affected by the UNESCO declaration. A hold was placed on $200 million in aid to the PA last August, signaling Washington’s disapproval of the quest for unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Granger worked in the past to bring about the current freeze of US funding to the Palestinian Authority.

Although she acceded to requests to lift the freeze on security funding, she is expected to stand strong on her position against unfreezing economic funds.

Last Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Congress not to cut security aid. Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the administration has a “strong preference that aid not be cut, particularly aid for the security forces.”

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said on Tuesday that Canada will not help make up any funding shortfall to UNESCO, after the US decided to stop funding the organization.

“Under no circumstances will Canada cover the budgeting shortfall as a result of this decision, and Canada has decided to freeze all further contributions to UNESCO,” Baird told reporters, adding that Ottawa was deeply disappointed by the vote.

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