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      Israel: UNESCO Acceptance of PA Harms Chance for Peace

      Israel says the decision of UNESCO to accept the PA as a member further harms the chances for peace in the region.
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 10/31/2011, 6:21 PM

      PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
      PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
      Flash 90

      The international body voted Monday to accept the PA as a member – risking the loss of 22 percent of its budget that is funded by the United States.

      “This is a unilateral Palestinian maneuver which will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement,” said the Foreign Ministry in a statement released Monday.

      “This decision will not turn the Palestinian Authority into an actual state yet places unnecessary burdens on the route to renewing negotiations.”

      Israel has continued to maintain that the correct and only way to make progress in the diplomatic process with the PA is through direct talks without preconditions.

      The PA has consistently attempted to avoid direct talks with Israel. Instead, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who also leads the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), recently applied to the United Nations Security Council for full membership in the international body and recognition as an independent sovereign state.

      “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 Foreign Ministry said.

      The ministry thanked countries that voted against the resolution, who it said “displayed a sense of responsibility and opposed this decision.”

      In particular, the ministry expressed disappointment that the European Union was unable to reach a unified position to prevent passage of the resolution to grant membership to the PA.

      Israel said it would “consider its further steps and ongoing cooperation with the organization” in light of its decision to accept the PA as a regular member of UNESCO.