US, Israel lose voting rights at UNESCO over Palestinian row

Countries stopped paying dues after Palestinians made members.

By REUTERS
November 8, 2013 15:45
2 minute read.
unesco

unesco. (photo credit: Charles Platiau / Reuters)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

PARIS - UNESCO has suspended the voting rights of the United States and Israel, two years after both countries stopped paying dues to the UN's cultural arm in protest over its granting full membership to the Palestinians.

The US decision to cancel its funding in October 2011 was blamed on US laws that prohibit funding to any UN agency that implies recognition of the Palestinians' demands for their own state.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Israel also pulled its funding, objecting to what it called unilateral attempts by the Palestinians to gain recognition of statehood.

Both countries missed a 1100 GMT Friday deadline to provide an official justification for non-payment and a plan to pay back missed dues, a UNESCO source told Reuters. That automatically triggered suspension of their voting rights.

Asked for his reaction, the US Ambassador to UNESCO, David Killion, said Washington considers UNESCO a "critical partner in creating a better future."

"We intend to continue our engagement with UNESCO in every possible way," Killion said.

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, is responsible for designating World Heritage sites, promoting global education and supporting press freedom, among other tasks.

FUNDING CRISIS




The withdrawal of US funding - which totaled about $240 million, or some 22 percent of UNESCO's budget - has plunged it into a funding crisis and forced it to cut programs.

UNESCO made no comment on the matter. The list of countries whose voting rights are suspended will be announced at a UNESCO meeting on Saturday, after which Director-General Irina Bokova is expected to issue a statement.

The body's 15-day general conference, which unites member state representatives every two years, began on Tuesday in Paris.

The US loss of voting rights comes as Washington tries to keep peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians afloat.

Both parties have signaled poor progress in the talks, which were revived in July after a three-year hiatus but recently became stymied over Israeli plans to continue building Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Israel that it could face a third Palestinian uprising if the talks fail.

The Palestinians have so far failed in their bid to become a full member of the UN, but their UNESCO membership is seen as a potential first step towards UN recognition of statehood.

The United States has characterized UNESCO's move as a misguided attempt to bypass the two-decade old peace process. Washington says only a resumption of peace talks ending in a treaty with Israel can result in Palestinian statehood.

Related Content

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
August 31, 2014
Prime minister to Channel 1: I’ll be running again in next election

By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN