The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) granted Palestine full membership on Monday, becoming the first UN agency to do so. The move marks a symbolic victory for Palestinians who have been bidding for permanent member status since Sep 30. Palestinian Foreign Minsiter Riad Malki said “Today’s victory at UNESCO is the beginning of a road that is difficult, but will lead to the freedom of our land and people from occupation.”
Palestine obtained support from two-thirds of the member states to become UNESCO’s 195th member. France broke precedent and voted in favor of Palestine, while Britain and Italy abstained, reflecting on the fractured state of EU. The United States, Israel, Canada, Germany and Holland voted against Palestinian membership. On the other hand, Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France (BRICS) voted in favor.
The US called the decision premature with the US Ambassador warning that UNESCO would suffer because of the decision; US provides 22 percent of UNESCO’s funding and according to new legislation, Washington can cut off funding to any UN agency which allows Palestine full membership.