News / Middle East

Israel Considers Response to UNESCO Vote

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with top advisers Tuesday to weigh a possible response to the U.N. cultural agency's decision to grant Palestinians full membership.

Officials said the discussion will include possible punitive measures against the Palestinians, who hailed the UNESCO vote as a historic moment.

UNESCO is the first U.N. agency the Palestinians have sought to join since President Mahmoud Abbas applied in September for full recognition of Palestinian statehood by the U.N. General Assembly.

Repercussions

The vote Monday to accept the Palestinians cost UNESCO nearly a quarter of its funding and drew criticism from U.S. and Israeli officials who said the move will hurt Middle East peace chances.

The U.S. State Department said Washington will not make a $60 million November payment to UNESCO because of a longstanding U.S. law that prohibits American support for any U.N.-affiliated body that accepts Palestinian membership.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said after the vote she is concerned about the financial stability of the agency.

Washington is UNESCO's biggest funding source, supplying 22 percent of the agency's budget.  The U.S. has reduced its involvement in the agency before, leaving in the 1980s under then-president Ronald Reagan and returning in 2003.

The White House called the UNESCO decision "premature," saying it undermines the international community's goal of a comprehensive Middle East peace plan. 

Spokesman Jay Carney said the vote is a distraction from efforts to restarting direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which the Obama administration says is the only way to achieve peace.

Reaction in Israel

Israel's Foreign Ministry described the move as a "unilateral Palestinian maneuver" that would further harm efforts to secure a peace agreement.

The ministry thanked countries that opposed the measure and said it was "disappointing" that the European Union could not reach a unified position to prevent the decision.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said the admission is "not an alternative, not a substitute for something else."

Palestinian officials say they will call on UNESCO to recognize key monuments in the occupied Palestinian territories as world heritage sites.  These include the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, built over the place where many Christians say Jesus is believed to have been born.

The Paris-based UNESCO voted to approve the Palestinian membership bid by a vote of 107 to 14, with 52 abstentions.

France voted for the motion, along with almost all Arab, African, Latin American and Asian nations, including China and India.  Israel, the United States, Canada and Germany voted against it.  Japan and Britain abstained.  A two-thirds vote was required by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's 193 members.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

 

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

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