PARIS - 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 President Mahmoud Abbas applied for full membership of the United
Nations on Sept. 23.
PA gains Arab backing for UNESCO membership request
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.
Washington is likely to cut funding to UNESCO over the vote.
action today will complicate our ability to support UNESCO," David T.
Killion, US ambassador to UNESCO, told journalists after the vote.
US has been clear for the need of a two-state resolution, but the
only path is through direct negotiations and there are no shortcuts, and
initiatives like today are counterproductive."
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.
will be seen by the Palestinians as a moral victory in their bid for
full UN membership but could be costly for UNESCO.
US legislation stipulates that it can cut off funding to any UN agency that grants full membership to Palestinians.
Israel called the vote a "tragedy."
"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.