web analytics
July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Administration Reacts Swiftly To UNESCO Vote On Palestinian Membership


UNESCO-logo

WASHINGTON – The immediate consequence of UNESCO’s vote to grant the Palestinians membership is clear: A cutoff of American funding for the UN agency governing the protection of cultures and sharing of scientific knowledge, which stands to lose roughly a fifth of its budget.

What’s less certain is what effect the defunding, mandated by a U.S. law banning aid to UN bodies that recognize Palestinian statehood, would have on American – and, by extension, Israeli – influence worldwide.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization voted Monday at its General Conference in Paris to designate Palestine as a full member state. The vote at the agency’s Paris headquarters was 107 in favor to 14 opposed, with 52 abstentions.

France cast a surprise vote in favor, while Britain abstained and the United States, Israel and Germany were among the countries voting against. Cheers from the assembled delegates greeted the results.

UNESCO had been warned for weeks that a cutoff of American funding was inevitable if the agency granted full membership to the Palestinians. Among Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress, the Palestinian statehood push at the United Nations is seen as a way of circumventing Israel’s demand for a return to direct talks to negotiate a peace agreement.

“I expect the administration to enforce existing law and stop contributions to UNESCO and any other UN agency that enables the Palestinians to short-cut the peace process,” Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the chairwoman of the foreign operations subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.

Granger had the backing of the committee’s senior Democrat, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).

“Consistent with current law, UNESCO’s action also has put at risk its funding from United States taxpayers, who provide more than one-fifth of UNESCO’s budget,” Lowey said in her statement. “UNESCO must understand that such irresponsible actions have serious consequences.”

Richard Stone and Malcolm Hoenlein, respectively the chairman and executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said in a statement, “We trust that the administration and Congress will take the appropriate action under U.S. law at the earliest possible time.”

The Obama administration, for its part, acted almost immediately. By Monday afternoon it was already announcing that funding would be cut off, and that UNESCO would not get about $60 million due on Nov. 1.

“Palestinian membership as a state in UNESCO triggers longstanding legislative restrictions which will compel the United States to refrain from making contributions to UNESCO,” said a statement from Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman.

Some supporters of the Obama administration’s multilateralism, however, expressed concern about the impact that the tough U.S. line on UNESCO would have on American influence.

“Here is this old law, first written in 1990 and updated in 1994, compelling a drastic measure that doesn’t fit the offense,” said Matt Duss, a policy analyst for the Center for American Progress.

Duss outlined what he said were gains that the Obama administration has made at the United Nations: intensifying international sanctions isolating Iran and increasing awareness of human rights abuses in that country.

“The re-engagement at the United Nations has been an important agenda item for the U.S.; it’s done a lot of good,” he said. “Part of that influence is to Israel’s benefit.”

Pulling funding from UNESCO also could jeopardize many non-controversial programs administered by the body, including tsunami early-warning systems and clean water efforts in poor countries.

Conservative critics, however, reject the assertion that taking a tough line with the UN harms American interests.

“Can someone explain to me why it is this is a problem for the United States? It’s a problem for UNESCO,” said Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

“All of these organizations need to assess whether their funding from the United States is more important than their support for the bureaucratic creation of a Palestinian state.”

For its part, the Obama administration had immediate concerns: Drawing back from UNESCO could have repercussions with an affiliated body, the World Intellectual Property Organization. Officials from the State Department and the Patent Office briefed “representatives from leading industries” on Monday on the possible repercussions on protecting overseas copyrights.

“The United States is a leading global voice on issues related to patent, copyright, and trademark matters, and should the U.S. be unable to provide its contributions to WIPO, the impact of that voice could be significantly diminished,” a State Department statement said.

Politico reported that representatives of Apple, Google, Microsoft, the Motion Picture Association of America, PhRMA and the Recording Industry Association of America attended – a signal the Obama administration was ready to bring in big guns to lobby Congress on the issue.

The statement from Nuland emphasized that the administration was exploring its options.

“The United States will maintain its membership in and commitment to UNESCO, and we will consult with Congress to ensure that U.S. interests and influence are preserved,” Nuland said.

Liberal groups like J Street and Americans for Peace Now urged Congress to reconsider the laws that prompted the funding cutoff.

“Existing legislation regarding the UN and the Palestinians must be amended to include sufficient flexibility to protect U.S. national security interests,” Americans for Peace Now said in a statement.

Leading House Republicans seem focused on further ratcheting up the pressure to derail the Palestinian UN campaign. In response to the UNESCO vote, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, quickly announced a briefing for later this week on “How to drop the Palestinian statehood scheme at the U.N.: UNESCO and beyond.”

Ros-Lehtinen has introduced a bill that would reinforce existing laws banning funding to international bodies that grant full membership to the Palestinians.

Israel praised the United States for its swift action. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the U.S. defunding announcement was further evidence of a “strong and solid” alliance with Israel.

Yet Israel did not commit to withdraw its own funding of UNESCO, amounting to about 3 percent of the agency’s budget, or to pull out of the organization. An Israeli official said the government is considering its options.

UNESCO is one of the few multilateral bodies where Israel’s concerns have received a sympathetic hearing; UNESCO runs Holocaust education programs in countries that have otherwise been hostile to such learning.

While Israel has sometimes clashed with UNESCO – such as in 2010, when UNESCO declared that Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem and Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs are “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories” – the agency also has taken actions that are seen as friendly. In 2003, UNESCO designated Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus blocks – the “White City” – as a world heritage site, which facilitates international fundraising for historic preservation.

The Israeli official said the government was weighing such successes with the agency against the damage he said the Palestinian membership vote did to the peace process.

“I don’t see how it’s conducive to the goal of achieving reconciliation,” said the official.

Noting the recent resumption of rocket fire from Gaza on southern Israel, the official said, “While they were accepting the Palestiniansto UNESCO, Israelis were in their shelters. So who is the actor you accepted to UNESCO?”

(JTA)

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 “Administration Reacts Swiftly To UNESCO Vote On Palestinian Membership”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
JFK Airport, NY
FAA Lifts Ban on Flights to Israel
Latest News Stories

8:03 am Ashkelon coastal region, Sha’ar HaNegev regional council 8:01 am Yad Mordechai, Netiv Ha’Asara 7:30 am Eshkol regional council – rocket exploded with no warning received

JFK Airport, NY

Last night, the FAA lifted their travel ban on flights to Israel.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) wants answers about the FAA ban on flights to Israel.

Sen Ted Cruz wants the administration to give straight answers to questions about the FAA ban on Israel.

Why is the ban on Israel’s airport different from all other FAA bans?

Abbas adopts Hamas as peace partner, big brave Kerry scurries out of Israel despite FAA ban and Mashaal goes off his rocker.

Yet again, non-anti-Semitic ‘pro-Palestinian’ demonstrators can’t quite seem to break free of anti-Semitic jargon.

Tomer Sargon of Netivot heard that IDF soldiers haven’t been able to bath in days, for lack of water and showering facilities out in the field. So he took it upon himself to help, by driving down to the Gaza border with a truck filled with huge water containers, just so the soldiers could have […]

Hundreds of Arabs gathered near Kever Rachel (Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem) Wednesday to attack IDF soldiers with stones and firebombs. Riots were also reported in Beit Omar, near Hebron.

Shots were fired outside the Hadar Mall in Talpiot, Jerusalem Wednesday. One individuals opened fire from a moped outside the mall this evening. No injuries or property damage was reported. Police said Wednesday night that a man suspected of having staged the attack was arrested in the Gilo section of south Jerusalem. Police have determined […]

Hamas terrorists fired mortar rounds Wednesday at an IDF field hospital on the Israeli side of the Gaza border, according to a report on Israel Radio. The Israeli army set up the hospital last week to treat Palestinian victims of Hamas’ “human shields” policy, but the report indicated that the terror gang has prevented wounded […]

The Al-Wafa hospital located near Shajuayia in Gaza City was a Hamas military compound.

US extends ban on flights to Israel despite lack of such precaution in similar or worse situations.

Hamas terrorists took over Waffa hospital in Gaza and were using it as a terror base. The IDF communicated with the medical staff to ensure no patients or staff were inside before blowing it up.

More Articles from Ron Kampeas
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

President Obama in an April 25 press conference seemed ready to take a break. “There may come a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives,” he said.

Secretary of State Kerry and Prime Minister Netanyahu

Obama himself suggested that a break from the process may be necessary.

But Israel’s stance is not sufficiently consequential to set off a fight between friends, neoconservative scholars said.

Tensions between Russia and the West are mounting over the Russian military takeover of the Crimean Peninsula, with the United States and European countries threatening to impose sanctions.

Expansive outreach, of course, is nothing new for AIPAC. But in the wake of battles over Iran sanctions legislation that pitted the pro-Israel lobbying powerhouse against the White House, many congressional Democrats and liberals more generally, AIPAC’s traditional emphasis on Israel as a bipartisan issue has taken on added urgency.

Administration officials and Jewish groups sympathetic to Kerry’s initiative say there is a longer-term agenda in preempting attacks on the framework peace agreement the Obama administration is expected to propose soon.

“As we have since the beginning of the process, we continue to support Secretary Kerry’s diplomatic efforts to achieve a secure and lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman said in a statement to JTA.

WASHINGTON – Until recently, the rule of thumb in the pro-Israel community was that the bigger the academic group, the less likely it was to consider a boycott of Israeli colleagues.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/u-s-reacts-swiftly-to-unesco-vote-on-palestinians/2011/11/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: