Palestine Unesco Member – UNESCO welcomes the people of Palestine as full members of the U.N.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization became the first U.N. agency to welcome the people of Palestine as a full member since President Mahmoud Abbas applied for full membership of the United Nations on September 23.
A huge cheer erupted in UNESCO’s General Assembly after the vote, which marks a symbolic victory for the people of Palestine in the complex diplomacy that surrounds their collective status and relations with foreign powers.
“Today’s victory at UNESCO is the beginning of a road that is difficult, but will lead to the freedom of our land and people from occupation,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said. “Palestine has the right to a place on the map.”
Israel called the vote a “tragedy” and the decision damaged relations between UNESCO and the United States, an ally of Israel that provides about 22 percent of the body’s funding, or some $70 million.
Legislation stipulates that the U.S. can cut off funding to any U.N. agency that accepts Palestinians as a member.
The White House said the vote was “premature” and would not aid peace and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said UNESCO would suffer.
“Today’s vote to grant Palestinian membership in UNESCO is no substitute for direct negotiations, but it is deeply damaging to UNESCO,” said Ambassador Susan Rice.
The U.N. Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization director-general Irina Bokova, who previously pleaded for Washington not to withdraw support, told delegates funding may be jeopardized.
“I believe it is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that UNESCO does not suffer unduly… We need each and every member of this organization to be fully engaged,” she added.