US, UNESCO at Conundrum over Palestinian Bid

World | October 29, 2011, Saturday // 12:02|  views

NESCO Director General Irina Bokova speaks during the opening the 36th UNESCO General Conference in Paris, France, 25 October 2011. EPA/BGNES

The bid of the Palestinian Authority to become a full member of UNESCO has raised a dilemma for the US government, which might have to freeze its membership and stop vital funding.

UNESCO chief, Bulgarian Irina Bokova, has raised worries that if the UNESCO General Assembly admits Palestine Monday, the USA might have to cease funding due to legislation passed in the early 1990s.

The situation is also reported to be unpleasant for US President Barack Obama, who wants to continue supporting UNESCO and wants to keep the States as a member, but has his hands tied due to the law.

The US is responsible for some 22% of the UNESCO budget, or USD 66 M per year, but is also a key member of the UN unit for education, science and culture.

Diplomats are reported to be feverishly with US Congress, the Palestinian party and other UNESCO member states to find a resolution.

"UNESCO membership 'is in the core security interests of the United States'', UNESCO Director General Bokova stated.

''I think the United States should take a very careful look at this legislation, in their own interests. I don't believe it's in the US interest to disengage from the UN system as a whole,'' added she.

US officials have criticized the Palestinian bid as premature, fearing it also might strain relations with Israel, but the Palestinian Authority has this far refused to withdraw it.

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Tags: Israel, Palestinian Authority, Irina Bokova, UNESCO, UN, Barack Obama, states, USA, US, Palestine, Director General of UNESCO


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