In a surprising movel, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that the Palestinian Authority should not pursue its plan to be recognized as a member state of the United Nations. Now that the PA has been accepted into UNESCO, the Authority's leadership should be satisfied with that achievement. Anything beyond that, Ban said, will “not be beneficial for Palestine and not be beneficial for anybody.”
Ban, speaking before a meeting of the G20 industrialized nations in Paris, specified the reason for his outspoken remarks; the financial hit the U.N. took when UNESCO approved the PA's membership. The U.S. and Canada have cut off funds to the organization, instantly lowering its operating budget by nearly 30%.
No other countries have stepped up to fill in the financial gap – and Ban, the observers said, has gotten an unpleasant reminder of how important the United States is to the international organization. The U.S. had been set to forward $64 million to UNESCO next month, but that money will no longer be forthcoming, as a result of Washington's cutoff of funds.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel would also halt its contributions to UNESCO. Israel had funded the international organization with about $2 million annually.
Ban said that any further efforts by the PA to ensconce itself in U.N. organizations as a vehicle to achieve international recognition of the state it seeks to establish in Judea, Samaria, and most of Jerusalem, “could impact the lives of millions of people, who will no longer receive funding for their needs and will suffer because of the actions of the Palestinians.”
Several days ago, a spokesperson for the PA, praising UNESCO for accepting the Authority's bid to join the organization, said that the PA intended to join an additional 16 organizations.
Among the groups where the PA plans to file for membership are the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, the International Telecommunications Union, and a host of others. If the PA does apply and is accepted – a very likely scenario, since the Authority is practically guaranteed all the votes of the third world and developing countries that make up the vast majority of these groups – the U.S. has said that it will halt funding for them as well.
There was no official response to Ban's remarks Thursday, but observers in Israel said that what surprised them was the speed with which Ban changed his position.
“This is a man who has encouraged the Palestinians with all their wildest political plans until now, and because his organization is going to miss out on some money, he has thrown away all the high-sounding principles he espoused when he was able to freely spend American money any way he wanted,” said one Israeli source. “It's perhaps not surprising that he would say this, as he needs to worry about the organization, but so quickly? Could he not try to line up other donors to cover the American shortfall?”