Palestine secures seat in UNESCO despite US threats

Palestine has received membership in the UN’s education, science and culture body after 107 of the 173 attending member states voted for it, with 14 against. The US objected to the move and threatened to curb its donations to the organization.

Two thirds of the delegates present and voting had to support the motion for it to be approved. With 52 members abstaining, Palestine needed 81 votes to be admitted.

The US, Canada, Germany and Israel were among those who voted against the Palestinian bid. Russia, China and France voted in favor. The UK was among the countries who abstained.

Palestine will receive full membership after signing and ratifying UNESCO’s Constitution. It is to become the organization’s 195th member.

The vote was called a month after Palestine submitted its statehood bid to the to the UN General Assembly. However, the Palestinian authorities say the two are not connected.

“We turned to UNESCO with a bid 22 years ago,” Palestine’s Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said in an address to the organization’s general conference in Paris.

UNESCO is the first organization working under the UN’s aegis to recognize Palestine’s right to statehood. A number of states, including the United States and Israel, objected to such a move.

Earlier on Monday the US, which provides more than one fifth of UNESCO’s budget, said it would curb its donations, should Palestine be elected as a member. Israel announced a similar move.

Both countries are strong opponents of international recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state. The US, which wields a right of veto in the UN Security Council, said it would use it to block any resolution which would grant such recognition.

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