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UNESCO Accepts Palestinian Authority, Risks Loss of US Funds

UNESCO accepts the PA as a member, risking the loss of 22 percent of its budget from the US. Congressmen urge cutoff of money.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 10/31/2011, 3:14 PM

UNESCO accepted the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a member on Monday, risking the loss of 22 percent of its budget that is funded by the United States.  

Only 14 nations voted against the PA, while 107 favored its entry and 52 countries abstained. Laughter broke out when Israel voted “no.”

Accepting the PA as a member raises its diplomatic status as it still tries to be accepted as full member of the United Nations.

Fully titled the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, it stands to lose $80 million a year because of an American law that states, "No funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or any other Act shall be available for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states."

Congressmen Steve Israel, a Democrat from New York, and Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, have sent a letter to other legislators urging them to block any move to waive the law, Politico reported.

“We cannot change this law, and we hope you will join us in cosigning this bipartisan letter to stand by this policy,” Israel and Cole wrote last week. “Congress must send a powerful message that everything is done to block full membership of the Palestinian Authority to UNESCO, the UN Security Council, and other UN agencies. Such a move would be detrimental to Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East, as well as UN programs around the globe.”

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, said she will "advocate for all funding to be cut off."

She added, "There are consequences for short-cutting the process, not only for the Palestinians, but for our longstanding relationship with the United Nations."

Abbas' bid for recognition of statehood at the United Nations is also opposed by Israel, which says it is premature without direct talks that address its longstanding security concerns. The US, too, opposes this unilateral move.