US threatens to cut off UNESCO funding over Palestinian bid

US threatens to cut off UNESCO funding over Palestinian bid

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that in individual and bilateral consultations, the United States has made clear "that there are consequences if UNESCO votes in this direction."

"We have concerns about our ability to continue to participate and our ability to ensure that UNESCO has the full benefit of US support," she said yesterday. "We've made the point that there are very clear red lines in US legislation, and that if those are crossed in UNESCO, that the legislation is triggered," she said.

The United States provides 22 percent of budget of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. US law requires that funding be cut off to any UN agency that accepts the Palestinians as full UN members, and members of the US Congress also have threatened to act to sever funding if the Palestinian bid succeeds.

On October 5, UNESCO's executive committee voted by 40-4, with 14 abstentions, to approve the Palestinian bid, which will now be submitted to the UNESCO general assembly, which opened Tuesday and runs until November 10.

If approved, the upgrade in its status would represent a small diplomatic victory for the Palestinians who are currently working to secure full state membership at the United Nations in a move strongly opposed by both the United States and Israel.

The United States has threatened to veto the Palestinian bid in a Security Council vote, but it has no veto power in UNESCO and it has been unable so far to derail the Palestinian bid. Palestinian leaders say they have come under enormous diplomatic pressure to abandon their candidacy.

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