U.S., Israel slam Palestine's UNESCO bid

Oct. 31, 2011 at 1:18 PM
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PARIS, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Israel and the United States said a decision by the U.N. cultural organization to accept Palestine as a member didn't do anyone any favors.

Members of the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization received 107 votes in favor for membership for the Palestinian territories. Fourteen voted in opposition of membership and 52 abstained, according to the BBC.

Though membership is largely symbolic, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said it was a small victory.

"This vote will erase a tiny part of the injustice done to the Palestinian people," he was quoted by the BBC as saying.

Palestinian leaders during this year's U.N. General Assembly meeting made a unilateral push for full membership at the United Nations as part of an effort to achieve statehood.

White House spokesman Jay Carney was quoted as saying the UNESCO vote undermines efforts at Middle East peace.

Washington under a law passed in the 1990s can cut funding to any U.N. body that gives full membership to Palestine, meaning 20 percent of UNESCO's funding is in jeopardy.

The Israeli foreign ministry was quoted as saying UNESCO membership wouldn't give Palestinian leaders any advantage.

"The Palestinian move at UNESCO, as with similar such steps with other U.N. bodies, is tantamount to a rejection of the international community's efforts to advance the peace process," the statement read.

The U.N. Security Council is set to vote on Palestinian membership in November. The United States holds veto power there, but not at UNESCO.

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