News / Middle East

UNESCO Grants Palestinians Full Membership

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki (C) stands between Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (L) and Palestinian ambassador to UNESCO Elias Sanbar (R) during the 36th session of UNESCO's General Conference in P
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki (C) stands between Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (L) and Palestinian ambassador to UNESCO Elias Sanbar (R) during the 36th session of UNESCO's General Conference in P
Scott Bobb

The Israeli government said Monday's vote by the United Nations cultural agency to accept the Palestinians' bid as a full member would harm efforts to revive Arab-Israeli peace talks.

A foreign ministry statement called UNESCO's action in Paris a "unilateral Palestinian maneuver" that further removed the possibility for a peace agreement.

Palestinian leaders welcomed the vote, calling it a historic moment that returns to Palestinians some of their rights.

"This is very good news for history, for culture, for heritage, for identity, for self-dignity," said Mahdi Abdul Hadi, head of Jerusalem's Palestinian Academic Society. "This is very good news for those who believe in the Palestinian cause, that it is time, overdue, to recognize the Palestinian rights."

107 UNESCO delegates voted in favor of the Palestinian bid. Fourteen voted against while 52 abstained.

Some analysts said the vote will boost the Palestinian move for U.N. state membership launched at the General Assembly last month.

However, Hebrew University professor Abraham Diskin said the vote, from a practical point of view, does not help the Palestinian cause.

"What the Palestinians really have to look for is the establishment of a Palestinian state and this is not going to be implemented by the decision of an international organization -- of course not UNESCO, but (not) even the General Assembly," he said.

Palestinians said they will call on UNESCO to recognize key monuments in the Palestinian territories as world heritage sites, such as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Several Western governments said neither Palestinian membership in UNESCO nor proposed membership in the United Nations will help end the conflict. They say only direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis can do this.

In addition, the U.S. government, which provides 22 percent of UNESCO's budget, will be required by a 21-year-old Congressional law to cut off funding for UNESCO.

Political observers say UNESCO admission is likely to boost the popularity of the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. It was dealt a blow two weeks ago by a deal between rival Hamas and the Israeli government to release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a Hamas-held Israeli soldier.

UNESCO video on the organization's history

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More