The United States of America has announced that it will withhold a US$60-million payment from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) because of an almost unanimous vote to accept Palestine as a member of the organisation.
Palestine was on Monday overwhelmingly voted into UNESCO as a full member despite strong opposition from the US, Canada and Israel. Of the 173 countries taking part in the voting exercise, 107 voted in favor of Palestine’s acceptance, 14 voted against and 52 abstained.
Following what came as a victory on Monday for the Palestinians, who are seeking global support for their bid to be recognized as an independent sovereign state, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland announced that the US would not be paying its dues to UNESCO later this month.
“We were to have made a $60m payment to UNESCO in November and we will not be making that payment,” Nuland said.
Nuland described the UNESCO vote as ‘unfortunate’ and ‘regrettable’ adding that despite having to take that decision, the US wanted to remain an active member of the Organisation.
US laws passed by a pro-Israel Congress in the 1990s, bars the country from funding any United Nations organisation, which admits Palestine as a full member, prior to an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
The US$60-million accounts for 20% of the annual budget of UNESCO.
The UN Security Council is expected to meet in November to vote on granting full membership of the UN to the Palestinians.©