New York, Nov. 2 - The Palestinian Authority, emboldened by its successful push this week to join the United Nation’s cultural and scientific agency, is now seeking to join 16 other U.N. bodies as part of the Palestinian quest to unilaterally gain statehood by bypassing peace negotiations with Israel.
Following their acceptance into UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Monday (Oct. 31), the Palestinians are applying for membership to U.N. agencies ranging fromthe World Health Organization and the International Criminal Court to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The UNESCO vote was 107-14, with 52 countries abstaining. The United States, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands voted against PA membership, while Brazil, China, France and Russia, voted for it.
The move triggered an automatic U.S. cutoff to its funding for UNESCO, which amounts to about $70 million – 22 percent of the U.N. cultural body’s funding. Canada has since followed suit, severing its financing of UNESCO. The Palestinians entry to UNESCO enables them to interfere with cultural and archeological activities and religious sites in Israel.
Said the PA’s UN envoy Ibrahim Khraishi, "Now we are studying when we are going to move for full membership on the other U.N. agencies. It's our target for (us to join) the international organizations and the U.N. agencies."
The United States and other countries were swift to condemn the Palestinian Authority’s UNESCO bid. U.S. Permanent Representative to UNESCO Ambassador David T. Killion, called the move “counterproductive,” adding, “The only path to the Palestinian state that we all seek is through direct negotiations.”
President Obama made his own stance on the matter clear in May, stating, "A lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples; Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace."
Nimrod Barkan, Israel’s UNESCO representative, said that with its vote, UNESCO has now "adopted the science fiction version of reality by admitting a nonexistent state to the science organization.”
Both before and after a September call by the Middle East Quartet – the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations – Israel agreed to begin talks with Palestinians on key concerns necessary for Israel and a future Palestinian state to live side by side in peace. Those issues range from borders, security and a future Palestinian capital to water-sharing and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The Palestinians rejected the Quartet’s proposal.
After months of lobbying across the globe to achieve full statehood, the Palestinians launched a bid to join the United Nations in September. The proposal has since been referred to the U.N. Security Council. A vote is expected Nov. 11. The United States has vowed to veto the bid.