In its own special version of a Halloween “trick or treat,” the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) became the first UN agency to admit Palestine as a full member since the Palestinians launched their full court press for total recognition as a UN member state.
The final UNESCO Halloween vote tally was 107 votes in favor, 14 against and 52 abstentions. The United States, Canada and Germany voted against Palestinian membership in UNESCO. France joined the countries that voted in favor. Britain abstained.
UNESCO provided the Palestinians with their undeserved Halloween treat. But the trick will be against UNESCO – a loss of major funding from the United States, as explained below.
The Palestinian bid for full membership in the United Nations as a whole is currently before the Security Council, where it is not expected to succeed this year. However, by piling up individual UN agency memberships, which can be approved by those agencies even for non-members of the entire United Nations system, the Palestinians are hoping to create momentum towards achieving their ultimate objective. The chain reaction will start with Palestinian bids to gain membership in the World Intellectual Property Organization, the UN Industrial Development Organization (in which the United States is not a member), and the UN Conference on Trade and Development, which admit entities that belong to another specialized UN agency such as UNESCO.
Sabri Saidam, adviser to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, declared:
This is a historic moment, a moment of jubilation on route to full recognition of Palestinian independence and self-determination, that’s equally a call for reconsideration of positions to those wavering on the Security Council vote. It is also a foundation stone for what’s to come at the (Security Council) and other international organizations.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, speaking after the vote, said the “admission of a new member state is a mark of respect and confidence.” Bokova falsely believes that a government which lacks the basic prerequisites of statehood under international law deserves membership in her organization as a “mark of respect and confidence.” Abbas’s government does not control all the territory it purports to represent, and there are no internationally recognized borders negotiated with Israel in accordance with Security Council Resolution 242. Moreover, a government contemplating “unity” with Hamas, a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of a member state of the United Nations, deserves neither the respect nor confidence of the international community.
UN Ambassador Susan Rice, piercing through the nonsense coming from UNESCO, tweeted: “Today’s vote to grant Palestinian membership in UNESCO is no substitute for direct negotiations, but it is deeply damaging to UNESCO.”
David Killion, the U.S. permanent representative to UNESCO, said the United States “cannot accept the premature Palestinian admission for membership in a United Nations specialized agency such as UNESCO.”
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