News / Middle East

Despite US Opposition, Palestinians Seek UNESCO Membership

UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France (file photo)
UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France (file photo)
Meredith Buel

Despite strong opposition from the United States, the Palestinians are seeking full membership in UNESCO - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which is currently meeting in Paris.  The move jeopardizes America’s funding for the organization.

It is Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, where millions of pilgrims and tourists visit the Church of the Nativity each year, built over the site tradition says is the birthplace of Christ.

Palestinians have asked UNESCO to make this a World Heritage site, but without a Palestinian state they say that can't happen.

So the Palestinians have asked UNESCO for full membership, following September’s request to be admitted to the United Nations.

Maen Rashid Areikat, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s representative to the U.S., said “Part of that is to complement what we are doing at the United Nations and secondly, because we really want to preserve our own religious and cultural sites.”

UNESCO’s executive board gave initial approval to the Palestinian’s request, despite opposition from the United States.

“I think that they believe that this is a way to advance their cause.  I think they are wrong," said Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute.“The problem is that peace is not going to come out of a bottle. It is not going to come out of a process at the U.N.  It is going to come out of a negotiated agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians and this step is not on that road.”

UNESCO promotes education and arts in developing countries, such as Afghanistan.  

Palestinian membership could trigger a cut off in U.S. contributions to UNESCO, more than $70 million per year, about 20 percent of its budget.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said “The problem here is that a move in UNESCO is not going to create a Palestinian state that is secure, living next to Israel in security, in self-determination and in mutual recognition.”

Twenty years of talks with Israel have failed to produce a Palestinian state.

PLO representative Maen Rashid Areikat said “Going to the U.N. is a diplomatic, political, nonviolent, legitimate effort on the part of the Palestinians to have the U.N. address Palestinian concerns and once and for all put an end to the Israeli occupation.”

The Palestinians hope full membership in UNESCO and recognition of the Church of the Nativity as a World Heritage site will bring them closer to becoming an independent state.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid