Monday, October 31, 2011

That was fast: US cuts off UNESCO funding

Israel Matzav

That sure didn't take long. After a vote on Monday that made the non-existent state of 'Palestine' a member, the United States has announced that it has cut off funding to UNESCO (Hat Tip: Gershon D).

The United States said on Monday it had stopped funding UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency, following its vote to grant the Palestinians full membership. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters the United States had no choice but to halt funding because of longstanding U.S. law, saying Washington would not make a planned $60 million transfer that was due in November.

Voice of America adds:

Washington currently is UNESCO's biggest funding source, supplying 22 percent of the agency's budget.

Earlier Monday, 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.

The White House called UNESCO's decision “premature,” saying it undermines the international community's goal of a comprehensive Middle East peace plan. Spokesman Jay Carney said the move is a distraction from the task of restarting direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, called the vote “deeply damaging to UNESCO.”

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.

They were warned.

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