Controversial move endorsed in UN cultural agency vote despite US threat of withholding £50m in funds
The UN Cultural and Educational Agency UNESCO has granted Palestine full membership in a move that Israel and the United States say could harm Middle East peace efforts.
Delegates approved the membership by 107 votes to 14.
France, which had voiced serious doubts about the motion, in the end approved it along with almost all Arab, African, Latin American and Asian nations, including China and India.
Israel, the United States, Australia, Canada and Germany voted against, while Japan and Britain abstained.
Israel’s ambassador Nimrod Barkan admitted before the vote that he was resigned to the Palestinians gaining entry. Barkan slammed countries that “have adopted a science fiction version of reality by admitting a non-existent state to the science organisation…. UNESCO should deal in science not science fiction” he said.
He admitted the vote, while symbolic, could have a knock-on effect:
“There is potential for a cascading effect of this resolution on many other UN specialized agencies and in New York.”
Palestine Vote: Statement by UNESCO Director-General
English Statement starts at 2:39
UNESCO members vote one-by-one on whether to allow Palestinians full membership to the cultural agency.
Huge cheers went up in UNESCO after delegates voted to approve the membership.
One shouted “Long Live Palestine!” in French.
“Gutless UK abstained…. collapse of stout party. Expect big sulk, toys being thrown out of pram etc.” — Stuart Littlewood (VT’s UK Correspondent)
Sources: Reuters /AFP / The Guardian, UK