UNESCO approves Palestinian membership bid
31-Oct-2011 (one comment)

US cuts off $60m in annual funding to UN cultural body hours after it admits Palestine as full member.

The US government has cut off tens of millions of dollars in annual funding to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) after it voted to admit Palestine as a full member.

Victoria Nuland, the US state department spokeswoman, said payments to the Paris-based organisation would be stopped immediately. She said Washington would refrain from making a $60m payment it planned to deliver in November.

"Today's vote by the member states of UNESCO to admit Palestine as a member is regrettable, premature, and undermines our shared goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,'' Nuland said.

The Palestinian bid received 107 "yes" votes during a UNESCO meeting in the French capital, with 14 countries voting against and 52 abstaining, enough to satisfy a two-thirds majority of those countries present and voting.

The decision grants full membership to Palestine, which has had observer status since 1974; it allows the Palestinians to register certain sites, like the Church of the Nativity, in UNESCO's World Heritage register. Riad al-Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister, said the vote would help to "preserve cultural heritage in Palestine."

It is a small victory for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which >>>

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