The Israeli ambassador to France said that Tuesday’s ceremony of raising the Palestinian Authority flag at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris was based on “science fiction.” French President Nicolas Sarkozy and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas attended the event.
The United Nations agency’s full name is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, but Israel said the science is more like fiction concerning the organization’s acceptance of the Palestinian Authority as a member, the first U.N. agency to do so.
Abbas last month failed to convene the United Nations Security Council to vote on his proposal for full membership to the United Nations. He backed off after falling one short of the necessary two-thirds majority to forward the motion to the General Assembly, where he is guaranteed a majority by the pro-Arab international body.
"Israel regrets that an organization responsible for education and science was at the heart of making a decision based on science fiction by integrating an entity that has no legal status as a state,” said the Israeli embassy in Paris.
Abbas has refused to compromise on his demands that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accept a new Arab state within Israel’s current borders, which were defined by the unification of Jerusalem and the restoration of the Judea and Samaria in the Six-Day War in 1967.
"This is truly a historic moment," Abbas said at the ceremony. "This admission is a first recognition of Palestine. I hope that this will be a good omen for Palestine's admission to other international organizations.”
UNESCO had granted the Palestinian Authority observer status on the body, but Abbas wanted full membership to create facts on the ground that the PA is a state in everything but name.
His unilateral move to gain membership in the United Nations and its agencies was a blatant violation of the Oslo Accords, which preclude both the Palestinian Authority and Israel from taking unilateral steps in the “diplomatic process” of creating a “two-state solution.”
The U.S. Congress reacted immediately by temporarily cutting off funds to the Palestinian Authority and suspending funding of UNESCO. Canada also has stopped its annual contribution to the agency, and Holland is considering the same action.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration and Western diplomats still pursue diplomatic talks between Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu.