U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, condemned today's vote by UNESCO in Paris to make Palestine a full member of the organization, the first international organization to do so since September, when the Palestinians applied at the UN Security Council for full UN membership. A total of 107 member countries voted in favor, 14 against, and 52 abstained. The United States voted against the UNESCO measure, considering it a distraction in finding a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Today's UNESCO vote to recognize Palestine as a Member State is an unacceptable attempt by the Palestinians to circumnavigate the peace negotiation process," said Menendez. "This is a symbolic vote, but one that will harm the attempts at restarting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. I strongly urge the State Department to enforce U.S. law and immediately cut off all funding to UNESCO and any other international organization that recognizes a Palestinian state. The Palestinian leadership is aware of U.S. law on this issue and it is very unfortunate that it is forcing the U.S. to take such drastic steps."
U.S. law prohibits funding for UN agencies in which a Palestinian state is given membership. The United States currently pays 22 percent or $80 million annually of UNESCO's budget.