Palestinians moved a step closer to full membership of the U.N. cultural agency on Wednesday when its board decided to let 193 member countries vote on admission this month.
The latest move in a Palestinian quest for statehood recognition drew a swift rebuke from the United States and Israel, which both argue that the way to create Palestine is through negotiations, and a cool response from France.
In September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas applied to the Security Council for full membership of the United Nations, ignoring a U.S. warning that it would veto the move, as well as threats from members of the U.S. Congress to restrict American aid to the Palestinians.
At UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 40 representatives of the 58-member board voted in favor of putting the matter to a vote, with four — the United States, Germany, Romania and Latvia — voting against and 14 abstaining, a source at the agency told Reuters.
That set the scene for a membership vote at UNESCO’s General Conference, a meeting that runs from October 25 to November 10 and involves all 193 members of the agency, based in Paris.
It also raised questions about whether Washington might be required by U.S. law to cut off funding for the agency if it were to accept the Palestinians as a member. The United States pays 22 percent of UNESCO’s dues, the State Department said.