News / Middle East

Israel Considers Response to UNESCO Vote

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid