Reports circulated Monday that Israel is considering ending its relationship with UNESCO, now that the Palestinian Authority had been admitted as a full member.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said that Israel was “reconsidering its future cooperation with UNESCO” in the wake of the PA's membership.
The United States expressed sharp criticism of the UNESCO decision. The State Department said - in accordance with a decision by US lawmakers – that it would freeze funds to UNESCO, as required by American law.
The White House echoed Jerusalem’s earlier statement that the decision was “not helpful” to bringing about a settlement between Israel and the PA. The EU, however, called on its member states to continue funding UNESCO.
The UNESCO decision came after PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas found his September bid for recognition of a PA state by the world body in stasis at the Security Council, where the US is promising a negative recommendation for the move.
Abbas' bid would require 9 positive recommendations from the 15-member Security Council – Including all five veto wielding permanent members – to advance to the General Assembly.
The move to join UNESCO, and other US organs, as a full-member is seen by many as a way to incrementalize the PA's unilateral track and avoid the compromise inherent in bilateral negotiations with Israel.
For his part, Abbas praised UNESCO Monday night for accepting the PA's application for membership saying it was “a victory for the rule of law, justice, and freedom.”
Hamas also praised UNESCO, saying PA ascension to the body was, “an important step that will ensure the survival of the Palestinian heritage in the face of Israel's attempts at destroying it, especially in mosques, and especially at the Al-Aqsa Mosque."