UNESCO Fuels Conflict, Will Fly PLO Flag
In a move that is sure to fuel the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations’ cultural agency plans to fly the PLO flag at its Paris headquarters next week.
In a statement it released on Wednesday, the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said it plans to raise the PLO flag “to mark Palestine’s admission to the organization.”
According to the statement, the flag will be raised in a special ceremony next Tuesday that will be attended by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and the PA’s Foreign Minister Riad Maliki. Also present will be the President of UNESCO’s General Conference Katalin Bogyay and the Chairperson of the Organization’s Executive Board Alissandra Cummins.
UNESCO accepted the PA as a member on October 31, after 107 members voted in favor of the motion. Only 14 nations voted against the PA, including the United States, Canada, Germany and Israel.
The move prompted the United States to cut off funding to the organization, due to a longstanding law that prohibits U.S. support for any United Nations-affiliated body that accepts Palestinian Authority membership.
Canada subsequently also cut off some of its funding to UNESCO. The organization was later forced to temporarily suspend new programs due to the large hole in its budget which was created by the loss of U.S. funds.