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PA on Steamroller to Join 16 More UN Agencies

‘WHO’ is next. Palestinian Authority officials say UNESCO is just the beginning and wants membership in 15 other UN agencies.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 11/1/2011, 2:13 PM

PA at UNESCO
PA at UNESCO
UNESCO/Doug Matar

‘WHO’ is next. Palestinian Authority (PA) officials say UNESCO is just the beginning and wants membership in 15 other UN agencies.

PA Minister of Health, Fathi Abu Moghli said Monday that the ministry is preparing to apply for full membership in the World Health Organization (WHO), according to the official PA news agency.

“With President Mahmoud Abbas’ directives, we discussed Palestine’s membership in WHO with the organization’s director of bureau,” he said.

UNESCO on Sunday accepted the PA as a full member, prompting the United States to immediately announce it is suspending its funding of the agency, as required by American law. The United States provided 22 percent of UNESCO’s annual budget, and Canada also is considering freezing funds.

However, the diplomatic victory for the PA in the United Nations, where it has a solid pro-Arab majority, has encouraged it to ask to join another 14 agencies. Further success would raise its image of legitimacy as it lobbies for the necessary two-thirds majority support of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in its bid for full membership in the international body.

"Now we are studying when we are going to move for full membership on the other U.N. agencies," Ibrahim Khraishi, the top Palestinian envoy at the U.N. in Geneva, told the Associated Press. "We are working on it, one by one," he said. "Because it's now precedent that we are a full member in one of the biggest and one of the most important U.N. agencies, UNESCO."

The United States has vowed to move to veto the motion if it passes in the UNSC, but a two-thirds majority that forces America’s hand would give PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas a moral victory and paint the Obama administration as the “bad guy” in the eyes of the General Assembly, where the PA is guaranteed a majority if the motion were to clear the Council.