Palestinians granted full membership by UNESCO

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(BDCi) – The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has become the very first U.N. agency to accept President Mahmoud Abbas’s September 23rd application for full membership.

This marks a huge leap forward in the state’s extensive efforts to gain recognition from the world as an independent state.

Reuters reports that Israel is calling the decision a “tragedy” and is putting a strain on UNESCO-U.S. relations. The United States, an ally of Israel, gives UNESCO roughly 22 percent of its funding, about $70 million. However, the U.S. is allowed to cut off funding to any United Nations agency if they accept Palestinians as members, as stated in legislation.

Two-thirds of UNESCO members voted to accept Palestine as the 195th member. 107 countries voted in favor of the decision. 14 voted against, 52 abstained and 12 were absent from voting.

President Abbas said the “vote is not directed against anyone, but represents support for freedom and justice.

The U.S., Canada, Holland and Germany voted against Palestine’s membership. Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Africa and France voted for the membership. Italy and Britain abstained.

On Monday Israel said it would reconsider its cooperation with UNESCO.

The Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement that the vote “is a unilateral Palestinian maneuver which will bring no change…but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement.”

By: Diego Díaz
Source: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
1 November 2011
10:45 a.m. P.D.T.

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