Palestine Approved for Full UNESCO Membership


Brian Walker – Nation of Change

Palestine has been approved for full membership to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after a vote on Monday [31 Oct 2011] successfully passed the resolution. Of the 173 countries eligible to vote, 107 members were in favor of recognizing Palestine with 14 against and 52 choosing to abstain.

For the membership to take effect, Palestine must sign and ratify the organization’s constitution in the city of London (the UK abstained from voting on the resolution).

Palestine is not yet a member of the United Nations itself, though it has resolved to become one amongst heavy opposition, including a threat from President Obama to veto any such attempt should it come to a vote. Palestine’s lack of true United Nations membership made the approval process for UNESCO much more difficult, requiring nomination by the organization’s Executive Board as well as a two-thirds majority vote among member states that choose to participate.

“This vote will erase a tiny part of the injustice done to the Palestinian people,” said Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki at the UNESCO meeting in Paris, reflecting on the announcement of successful recognition.

The United States quickly denounced the recognition of Palestine, of which it is heavily opposed to in all forms at the United Nations, having previously threatened to cut as much as $80,000,000 in UNESCO funding should they approve Palestine’s request. With strong support from Arabic states, and a large list of abstaining nations, the fact that the resolution passed despite strong efforts by the US to prevent it may represent a shift of influence within the UN. A statement at the Israeli Foreign Ministry denounced the recognition, claiming that, “The Palestinian move at UNESCO, as with similar such steps with other UN bodies, is tantamount to a rejection of the international community’s efforts to advance the peace process.”

The UN will vote to determine the matter of true Palestinian Statehood with the United Nations on November 11th.

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