hillary clinton_311 reuters.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hinted Wednesday the US may withhold funds to
UNESCO if it votes to accept the Palestinians as a member state, a tactic that
worked to keep the PLO from gaining entry into UN-affiliated bodies in
UNESCO, the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
based in Paris, is expected to vote in its 193- member General Conference later
this month whether to grant the Palestinians a state.
UNESCO director-general hails joint work with Israel
The Palestinian bid
to join this UN agency, and others, is part of its overall move toward gaining
UN statehood recognition.
On Wednesday, 40 members of the 58-member
UNESCO executive board voted in favor of bringing to a vote the question of
admitting Palestinians as a member later this month.
US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton – who asked during a press conference Wednesday in the
Dominican Republic whether the US should stop funding or drop out of the
organization if the move was adopted – said she found it “quite confusing and
somewhat inexplicable that you would have organs of the UN making decisions
about statehood, or quasistatehood status, while the issue has been presented to
the United Nations.”
Then-president, Ronald Reagan, pulled the US out of
UNESCO in 1984 because of its anti-American agenda and budgetary mismanagement,
and Washington did not rejoin until 2003. Presently it contributes some 22
percent of the organization’s yearly budget.
Clinton urged UNESCO’s
governing body to “think again before proceeding with that vote, because the
decision about status must be made in the United Nations and not in auxiliary
groups that are subsidiary to the United Nations.”
“What is the boundary
of this state that is being considered by UNESCO?” she asked.
authorities does it have? What jurisdiction will it be endowed with? Who knows?
Nobody knows because those are the hard issues that can only be resolved by
Regarding how the US will respond to the UNESCO move,
Clinton said “we are certainly aware of strong legislative prohibition that
prevents the United States from funding organizations that jump the gun, so to
speak, in recognizing entities before they are fully ready for such recognition.
So it is still our hope – and our strong recommendation – that we take this to
the appropriate forum, which is the negotiating table, and take it out of
international organizations that are basically engaged in actions that are not
going to change the lives of the people that deserve a state of their
Namely the Palestinians.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee
Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) has already called for a cut-off of
US funding to UNESCO if the Palestinian request is approved.
diplomatic officials, meanwhile, said Thursday that Jerusalem was lobbying the
UNESCO countries against accepting the PLO bid. Two-thirds of the UNESCO states
need to vote for the bid for it to be accepted.
At Wednesday’s executive
board meeting, only the US, Germany, Latvia and Romania – of the 58 states on
the governing board – voted against, while another 14 countries abstained.