web analytics
July 5, 2015 / 18 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


The UNESCO Fiasco


With surprising swiftness, almost immediately after UNESCO granted full membership to the Palestinian Authority on Monday, the United States announced it was cutting off all funding to the UN’s major cultural agency.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the vote triggered a longstanding congressional restriction on funding to UN bodies that recognize Palestine as a state before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is negotiated. While the legal requirements are significant, it would be a mistake to focus on the imperatives of the various laws rather than the political context and overall need for political solutions. There will not always be legal requirements to drive the decisions that have to be made in America’s interests.

The Palestinians have turned to the UN and some of its agencies in an attempted end-run around negotiations with Israel by securing approval of statehood. The U.S. and several Western countries strenuously oppose the Palestinian gambit, arguing that peace can only come from a negotiated settlement from which a Palestinian state would emerge.

But despite the fact that the rules objectively applied would deter the Palestinians’ various applications, they have a pocket majority of Third World countries willing to do their bidding in confronting the United States and Israel.

Aside from following the mandates of American law, it is critical that the U.S. put teeth into its opposition to the Palestinians at the UN as a political matter even when the law is not all that clear. This is not only a matter of Israel’s national interest but also of America’s standing in the world.

Public Law 103-236, Title IV, bars U.S. contributions to “any affiliated organization of the United Nations which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.”

It was to this law that Ms. Nuland was referring in her announcement of the funding cutoff. It would seem to be a compelling point. But there is also the matter of the pending Palestinian application for recognition by the UN Security Council. President Obama has announced he will invoke U.S. veto power to defeat the effort.

The PA, however, has said if it fails in its Security Council effort it will seek recognition in the General Assembly, where the U.S. has no veto power. Indeed, the same configuration of votes that emerged at UNESCO will obtain at the General Assembly.

At that point, another law would seem to come into play. Public Law 101-246, Title IV provides: “No funds authorized to be appropriated by this act or any other act shall be available for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states.”

Is General Assembly action regarding Palestinian statehood “UN action?” According to the UN Charter, it is the Security Council, not the General Assembly, that accords recognition and membership status. Only a convoluted and purely subjective application of the Charter would permit General Assembly action on Palestinian statehood.

And then there is the issue of America’s treaty obligations to the UN. The U.S. contributions to UNESCO are largely voluntary, so the U.S. is not bound by treaty to provide the suspended funds to UNESCO. On the other hand, it could be argued that U.S. contributions to the UN is governed by treaty and cannot be limited by American law.

These are things that will doubtless occupy lawyers should the PA effort proceed. But as noted, the more important concern is how the U.S. should proceed politically in the face of this challenge to its place in the world. The Palestinians and their supporters in UNESCO knew exactly the gauntlet they were throwing down in America’s direction.

Unfortunately, Secretary of State Clinton, while urging the Palestinians to back off and UNESCO to stay out of the political thicket, also recently told reporters she was “strongly making the case to members of Congress that at some point we need some flexibility because pretty soon, if we don’t pay into these organizations, we lose our right to participate and influence their actions.”

An analogous situation with UNESCO during the Reagan administration is instructive. In the 1980s, UNESCO Soviet-bloc and third world nations continued to confront Western members in pursuit of what they said was a “new order” in economic and social matters. It got to the point where UNESCO was viewed in the West as highly politicized, anti-U.S., and quite corrupt.

Thus in 1984 President Reagan withdrew American membership and contributions. This precipitated a significant reformation campaign within UNESCO, and the organization largely transformed itself. In 2002, President George W. Bush announced the U.S. would rejoin the organization. Yet things have deteriorated over the years since, with anti-U.S. and anti-Israel bias creeping into the UNESCO agenda.

Plainly, the U.S. looms large in the UNESCO picture. The challenge to America posed by the UNESCO vote to admit the Palestinians – despite America’s principled objections and the requirements of U.S. law – is analogous to what President Reagan faced in 1984. The lesson was that resolute assertion of American interests gets results.

President Obama has the opportunity in the context of the Palestinian UN effort to begin making it plain that the U.S. is going to vigorously pursue its interests and not simply go along to get along.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The UNESCO Fiasco”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Future guard? Arab child with Hamas headband aims toy rifle on the Temple Mount after prayers in the Al Aqsa mosque.
CNN Promotes Old City on Verge of Extinction Due to ‘Political Tension’
Latest Indepth Stories
Obama was all smiles for Israel's Ambassador Oren when they met in the White House.

US Jews prefer to be like their non-Jewish liberal friends complaining about “settlements” and Bibi

New Israel Fund and the UN

New Israel Fund & its supporters must be countered; Israel’s in the midst of an unprecedented storm

An ISIS Gaza rocket launcher.

PM Netanyahu this week identified ISIS and Iran as Israel’s primary threat. It is a planetary threat that carries the promise of peace.

U.S. postage stamp honoring Haym Solomon.

Haym Solomon, overlooked hero of the Revolutionary War, was America’s “Funding Father.”

Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive

There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN

Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well

When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel

Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.

Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly

What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?

Rambam writes the verse’s double term refers to 2 messiahs: first King David; 2nd the final Mashiach

The Gaza flotilla has been rightfully and legally blocked by Israel’s Navy, with greetings from Bibi

The president described the attack as “an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches, not random, but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress…”

“The only [candidate] that’s going to give real support to Israel is me,” said the 69-year-old Trump.

More Articles from Editorial Board

Can adoption agencies limit the placement of children to heterosexual couples only?

The court’s finding that the president has exclusive jurisdiction in recognizing foreign countries might have been be apt if the issue at hand were a congressional attempt to grant recognition to “Palestine” as a state.

It wasn’t too long ago that Mr. Erdogan, in his determination to burnish Turkey’s credentials as an Islamist state at the cost of the secularism that had brought much economic and political success to Turkey, upended his country’s decades-long cooperative relationship with Israel.

Does the pope really believe that Father Dehon’s destructive anti-Jewish calumnies do not disqualify him from the highest honor of the Catholic Church because in his time everyone did it?

There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.

“Let’s get something straight so we don’t kid each other…[the Iranians] already have paved a path to a bomb’s worth of material,” said Mr. Biden. “Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal.”

Beyond the particulars of this tragic death, however, we should all be concerned about the possibility that a criminal prosecution in a major American city is being driven by fear of mobs in the street.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-unesco-fiasco/2011/11/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: