FM heads to Bosnia-Herzegovina to lobby against PA’s UN bid

UNESCO general assembly expected to vote within days on Palestinian membership.

By
October 26, 2011 01:26
2 minute read.
Avigdor Lieberman

Avigdor Lieberman 521. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will travel to Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday to lobby that country, currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, against the Palestinian Authority’s UN statehood bid.

This will be Lieberman’s second trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina since May.

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While the US has made it clear that it will, if necessary, veto the PA’s efforts in the Security Council to be accepted as a full UN member state, both Washington and Jerusalem are trying to avert a veto and deprive the Palestinians of a moral victory by getting seven of the 15 council members to either oppose the move or abstain.

According to assessments in Jerusalem, Bosnia-Herzegovina is a strong candidate to abstain because of the unique makeup of its three-member, inter-ethnic presidency representing each of the country’s major ethnic groups: Bosnians, Serbs and Croats.

For Bosnia-Herzegovina to vote for the measure, each of the three members of its presidency would have to support it. If the representative of one group opposes, the country would abstain on the measure. The Bosnians and Croats are believed to be in favor of the PA move, and the Serbs opposed.

Over the past two years, Lieberman has developed strong ties with the country’s Serbs. In fact, the president of the Serbian Rebublika Srpska – one of the country’s two autonomous entities, with the other being the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina – visited Israel last year and promised to promote Israeli interests inside the country.



The other countries that Jerusalem now believes are likely to vote against or abstain on the measure in the Security Council are the US, France, Britain, Germany, Portugal, Nigeria and Colombia. Gabon is also considered a country “in play.”

Those expected to support the PA on the measure are Russia, China, South Africa, India, Brazil and Lebanon.

Also on Tuesday, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference opened in Paris and is expected to vote within two weeks on whether to accept Palestine as a member state. If the organization does accept the Palestinians, it will lose US funding because of legislation from the mid-1990s that mandates a complete cutoff of American funding to any UN organization that accepts the Palestinians as a full member.

The US contributes 22 percent of UNESCO’s annual budget, or some $70 million a year. Even if President Barack Obama would want to continue funding the organization were it to grant membership to the Palestinians, he would be unable to do so because of the law. Moreover, with the Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, there is almost no chance of counter-legislation to repeal the law.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Israel’s representatives abroad have been instructed to actively lobby against the PA move in UNESCO, arguing that such a step would provide the Palestinians with an incentive to avoid negotiations and should only come after a negotiated diplomatic agreement with Israel.

Some three weeks ago, UNESCO’s 58-member board voted in favor of letting the 193 member states decide whether to admit the Palestinians. The motion in UNESCO’s General Conference will pass if two-thirds, or 129, of the countries vote for it.

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