PARIS: Palestinians won a crucial vote to enter Unesco as a full member on Monday, scoring a symbolic victory in their battle for statehood and full membership in the UN General Assembly.
"The general assembly decides to admit Palestine as a member of Unesco," said the resolution that was adopted to loud applause by 107 countries, with 14 voting against and 52 abstaining.
Palestinian foreign minister Riyad alMalki, who was at Unesco's Paris headquarters for the vote, hailed "a historic moment that gives Palestine back some of its rights," while Israel said the move damaged hopes for peace.
"This is a unilateral Palestinian manoeuvre which will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement," the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement.
France, which had voiced serious doubts about the motion, approved it along with almost all Arab, African, Latin American and Asian nations, including China and India.
Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia and Germany voted against, while Japan and Britain abstained.
The United States and Israel are set now to withdraw their funding from the UN cultural body, while other UN agencies may have to debate the thorny issue.
Washington has slammed the move as counterproductive and premature.
Staunch Israel ally the United States in the 1990s banned the financing of any United Nations organisation that accepts Palestine as a full member, meaning the body would lose $70 million, or 22 percent of its annual budget.
US ambassador to Unesco David Killion said after the vote that "this action today will complicate our ability to support Unesco programmes."
Barkan warned that those who voted for the resolution would lose influence over Israel.
"It certainly will weaken their ability to have any influence on the Israeli position," he told AFP.
Barkan slammed countries that "have adopted a science fiction version of reality by admitting a non-existent state to the science organisation, Unesco should deal in science not science fiction."
He admitted that the vote, while symbolic, could have a knock-on effect: "There is potential for a cascading effect of this resolution on many other UN specialised agencies and in New York."
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas submitted the request for membership of the UN General Assembly in September, and the Security Council is to meet on November 11 to decide whether to hold a formal vote on the application.
As a permanent UN Security Council member the United States has a veto that it says it will exercise at the UN General Assembly, but no one has a veto at Unesco.
Arab states braved intense US and French diplomatic pressure to bring the motion before the Unesco executive committee in October, which passed it by 40 votes in favour to four against, with 14 abstentions.
The Palestinians previously had observer status at Unesco.
Unesco Director General Irina Bokova said Friday she was very concerned about the possible withdrawal of US funding.
"This would have serious consequences, programmes would have to be cut, our budget would have to be rebalanced," she told AFP.
The United States boycotted Unesco from 1984 to 2003 over what the State Department called "growing disparity between US foreign policy and Unesco goals."
Despite the 20-year US boycott, President Barack Obama now considers Unesco a strategic interest and Washington sees it as a useful multilateral way to spread certain Western values.
The Europeans had tried to convince the Palestinians to be satisfied for now with joining three Unesco conventions, including on World Heritage, which is possible for a non-member state.
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The muslim countries should pool in to make the payment of $60 Million as a means to encourage such actions and remove dependance on US funding of such institutions.
@Motsomi Masilo: There is no divine funding of UN and its institutions. They are all dependent on US support. Muslims have OIC. Why doesn't it rival UN? If it could, it would have not been an irrelevant club where Arabs meet and drink Turkish coffee in those ..oh so miniature cups. America had to stop funding of UNESCO because of its law which forbids such funding if Palestine is inducted. Let us see how Arabs shall fill the void left by America's withdrawal of support. Prediction: They will not. Pakistan is begging IMF, not OIC, to bail it out because even Pakistan knows it cannot count on its brothers in ummah. If you don't know this IMF is mostly US funded. As far as pulling UN out of New York, go ahead and try it. If you do so, you would probably be lynched since you will have denied all those non-American self-important government functionaries their periodic shopping jaunts in Europe and America. Get down to earth, my friend, which world are you living in?
This is a historic moment for the Palestines as they were accepted as full members of the Unesco. The majority of votes favoured them with an eight to one margin. It has been a long and thorny road for the Palestines and it is starting to pay out handsomely.There is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel. The Usa and Israel voted against the motion and lost. Fortunately for the Palestines the Unesco does not allow any country to veto a majority vote. The Usa subsequently threatened to withdraw absolutely the funding of Unesco. This must be seen as the bullying tactics to force the vote to go their own way. That's why other countries like Britain abstained from voting. I suspect they fear losing on Usa financial support. The next move for the Palestines is full United Nations membership due to take place at the security council. That's a different ball game as the Usa has been locking out Palestine for decades through the veto rights. I hope this time Usa sees the writing on the wall and accept Palestine as a member of the Un. Failure to do so will eventually lead to the calls by member states to reform the Un where the undemocratic veto rights system will be discarded. Congratulations once again to the Palestines for achieving success in your bid to the Unesco membership. You also deserve a share of the Unesco funding just like all humanity throughout the whole world.
The US contributes $ 70m to the UNESCO budget. Countries like China nd India must increase their contributions to make up the shortfall. In the worst case scenario , move the UN out of New York.
heratiest Congrats to Palastinans.
@MarkH: Oh really? But then when have we claimed to be the chaps? LOL............ truth is painful, I must say!
@Md Rifaye: I agree with you and some of the others that Israelis have an equal right to have a place of their own and live side by side as two states. The problem is Israelis have all the cards and Palestinians have almost none. The extreme rightwing govt of Israeli mullahs is not helping the situation at all. Thanks and regards, Mirza
@Khatti Chousney: Tell it to your minorities.
@Md Rifaye: I think you're the first I've seen ever speak of Israel as humans who deserve a home of their own where they aren't treated like trash on here. While you risk alienation with your opinion, it still pulls back in one important area. You could speak of religious compromise but, going by the trend I can't find an exception to... Even if some form of deal was struck in that area, it wouldn't be long before independent Muslim sects that are being spoken for in such an agreement will still have a strong refusal to the extent that they would use the chance to occupy the area and run off anyone from Israel. They're not exactly known for religious compromise.
Freedom, Equality & Justice................................. only for the Americans.
@Md Rifaye: The state of Palestine will not come into being until all Palestinians affirm the right of Israel to exist within mutually negotiated borders. Palestinian wilfulness has made that quite impossible. That they are predominantly Muslims also does not help because all Muslims consider it their divine Islamic right to make their adversaries bend to their will under duress. It is also a fact that Muslims don't mind being ruled by others but no one in the world, least of all Israel, wants to do that either!
Justice and dignity must be provided to Palestinians, without delay and excuses. Most of the population of the world (China, India, all Arab and African countries, etc.) have voted in favor of this resolution. It is a harsh rebuke to the double standards in US foreign policy. The problem of Palestine has never been a religous but a nationalist problem. Too bad with Israel delying any solution some of the Palestinians are turning to fundamentalism. Something is major wrong when even UK and France do not support the US in UNO. Time to wake up Uncle Sam!
Congratulation to all humanity. Though it is very late but we are moving towards justice, liberty and freedom. US and Canadian opposition proves that our current form of democracy has many faults. The money power of Zionists and other groups in our system can still easily make our system do opposite of what it was intended for?
its indeed a new beginning for palestinians.. they deserve a place in UN as a nation not a state of disputed land..I am in for full membership for palestinian as a country.
however, i do beleive israelis do deserve a country and a place there. they have faced too many prosecutions, and have suffered the most in history than any other ethnic or community in the world i think two state solution is the most viable and the most acceptable one for everyone. the most troubled issue is the noble sanctuary..which i am sure neither jews will give up, nor muslims will give up.. Perhaps it should be divided and allowed to construct a temple ,without damaging the mosque. I am sure my comment will hurt other muslims here. Otherwise i dont see any other possible solution for this historic bloodshed.
to settle this dispute, first everyeone should treat this as a political issue with border dispute ,than a religious issue between muslims and jews. this will throw away egos of jews and muslims alike...
Mohd Rifaye, india
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now the preacher of the democracy has become the obstruction of democracy by threatening to cut off aid in dollars. guess what? dollar is no more the talking money. with us economy in decline, no wonder who would respect your aid in dollars.
That's a welcome news.