Daily Israel Report

US Could Cut Off UNESCO Funding if PA Accepted as Member

A key member of a Congressional appropriations committee said she would move to cut off US funding to UNESCO if the PA becomes a member.
By David Lev
First Publish: 10/6/2011, 10:19 AM

Although its Security Council statehood bid is stalled, the Palestinian Authority is set to receive another important UN posting – membership in UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The UNESCO board voted Wednesday to put the PA's prospective membership in the U.N. culture organization up for a vote at the next UNESCO General Conference, beginning on October 25. As all 193 U.N. member nations get to vote on admitting the PA, it's likely that the bid will be approved.

If it is, says Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-Texas), she will move to cut off U.S. funding for the group. And as chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, the Congressional body responsible for forwarding American funds to U.N. activities, she is a in a unique position to make good on that threat.

“Since April, I have made it clear to the Palestinian leadership that I would not support sending U.S. taxpayer money to the Palestinians if they sought statehood at the United Nations," Granger  said in a statement. “Making a move in another U.N. agency will not only jeopardize our relationship with the Palestinians, it will jeopardize our contributions to the United Nations. As chairwoman of the Subcommittee, I will advocate for all funding to be cut off. This is consistent with current law and I will consider additional actions as needed. There are consequences for short-cutting the process, not only for the Palestinians, but for our longstanding relationship with the United Nations.”

Granger is far from the only U.S. official opposed to UNESCO membership for the PA. U.S. ambassador to UNESCO David Killion issued a statement in which he urged all UNESCO members to vote against the PA bid, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that it was “inexplicable” that the U.N. would undertake a unilateral move to provide the PA with the accoutrements of statehood before the Security Council has even had a chance to discuss it. UNESCO, she said in a statement, should “think again before proceeding with that vote because the decision about status must be made in the (Security Council) and not in auxiliary groups that are subsidiary to the United Nations.”

If the PA is admitted, said Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, it would just further delegitimize the organization, whose agenda was long ago diverted to largely anti-Israel activities. “The problem is that the politicisation of UNESCO is detrimental to the ability of the organization to carry out its mandate,” he said in an interview. “It is not too late to wake up and save this organization from politicization."