U.S lose UNESCO voting right over Palestine membership
Delegates applaud following the vote which admitted Palestinians to enter UNESCO as a full member on October 31, 2011 at the headquarters of the organization in Paris. [Getty Images]
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U.S has lost voting rights at Unesco after missing a crucial deadline to resume its funding for UNESCO.
The U.S decision to not repay its debt to the world's culture agency is due to the organizations recognition of Palestine as a member of UNESCO in 2011.
Israel suspended its dues at the same time and lost its voting rights.
Funding from the US accounts for some 22% of UNESCO’s budget, and according to UNESCO rules the US must resume funding or forfeit its voting power.
The United States had until Friday morning to resume funding or explain itself, or it automatically loses its vote. The U.S missed the Friday deadline to provide official justification for its failure to resume its funding to UNESCO and as such lost its voting rights, a UNESCO official said.
The suspension of US contributions, which to date amounts to about $240 million, have created big financial problems for UNESCO forcing it to cut programs and slash spending.
Palestinian Ambassador to UNESCO Elias Sanbar told Press TV, “We need them (US authorities) to be active. By taking this decision, first of all, they have created big problems for UNESCO but they have also lost part of the role and we need the role. I am not saying, well that’s very good bye-bye and leave us. I am not saying this. Why did they choose to get out from the game in this way?”
The suspension of voting right comes as Washington tries to keep U.S.-brokered peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians afloat.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Israel that a third Palestinian uprising is at stake if the talks fail.
Many fear that a weakened U.S position will lead to growing anti-Israeli sentiment within Unesco and a stronger Arab presence.
"We won't be able to have the same clout," said Phyllis Magrab, the Washington-based U.S. National Commissioner for UNESCO. "In effect, we (now won't) have a full tool box. We're missing our hammer."
Israel’s ambassador to Unesco, Nimrod Barkan, told The Associated Press that his country supported the Unites States’ decision, “objecting to the politicisation of UNESCO, or any international organisation, with the accession of a non-existing country like Palestine.”
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