Friday, 7 October 2011

Palestinian Victory In UNESCO : America Fumes.

Thursday October 06, 2011 08:54:55 AM, Agencies
Paris: Palestine won a first diplomatic victory in its quest for statehood when the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) executive council backed its bid to become a member of the cultural body with the rights of a state.

Palestine's Arab allies braved intense US and French diplomatic pressure to bring the motion before the committee's member states, which passed it by 40 votes in favour to four - the US, Germany, Romania and Latvia – against it, with 14 abstentions.

The Palestinian bid will now be submitted for the approval of at least two thirds of all UNESCO 193 members which are due to meet for the general conference between Oct 25 and Nov 10 at its Paris headquarters.

The move was swiftly criticised by the US and Israel. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said UNESCO should "think again" about voting on Palestinian admission.
Clinton, speaking to reporters during a trip to the Dominican Republic, also called the move "confusing," as the UN Security Council weighs a request from the Palestinians for full UN membership, which the United States opposes.

"I found quite confusing and somehow inexplicable that you would have organs of the United Nations making decisions about statehood or statehood status while the issue has been presented to the United Nations," Clinton said.

"I think this is a very odd procedure indeed," she said.

"The decision about status must be made in the United Nations and not in auxiliary groups that are subsidiary to the United Nations."

David Killion, the US ambassador to UNESCO, issued a statement urging all delegations to join the United States in voting "no" while in Washington US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland sharply criticised the Palestinian effort.

"This is not going to create a state for them," she said at her daily briefing. "It is going to make things harder ... It further exacerbates the environment of tension."

Nimrod Barkan, Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, said the move would harm the agency and would not advance Palestinian aspirations.

"The problem is that the politicisation of UNESCO is detrimental to the ability of the organisation to carry out its mandate," he told Reuters.

France, which has advocated observer status of the UN, said that UNESCO was not the place to further the Palestinian case for recognition.

"The priority is to revive negotiations," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said. "We consider that UNESCO is not the appropriate place and the General Conference is not the right moment."

Both US and Israel argue that the way to create Palestine is through negotiations.

Palestinian authority has intensified its effort for statehood representation in the UN and its branches since this year. The latest move was presenting its statehood bid to the 66th session of the UN General Assembly starting in late September. 

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