Palestine becomes member of UNESCO
Paris, Oct 31: Palestine became a full member of the UN cultural and educational agency today, in a highly divisive move that the United States and other opponents say could harm renewed Mideast peace efforts.
US lawmakers had threatened to withhold roughly USD 80 million in annual funding to UNESCO if it approved Palestinian membership. The United States provides about 22 per cent of UNESCO's funding.
Huge cheers went up in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation after delegates approved the membership in a vote of 107-14 with 52 abstentions.
Eighty-one votes were needed for approval in a hall with 173 UNESCO member delegations present.
"Long Live Palestine!" shouted one delegate, in French, at the unusually tense and dramatic meeting of UNESCO's General Conference.
While the vote has large symbolic meaning, the issue of borders of an eventual Palestinian state, security troubles and other disputes that have thwarted Middle East peace for decades remain unresolved.
Palestinian officials are seeking full membership in the United Nations, but that effort is still under examination and the US has said it will veto it unless there is a peace deal with Israel.
Given that, the Palestinians separately sought membership at Paris-based UNESCO and other UN bodies.
Today's vote is definitive. The membership formally takes effect when Palestine signs UNESCO's founding charter.
The US ambassador to UNESCO, David Killion, said today's vote will "complicate" US efforts to support the agency. The United States voted against the measure.
Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, called the vote a tragedy. AP
Lastupdate on : Mon, 31 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 31 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
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