U.S. loses voting rights at UNESCO over Palestine row

11 November 2013 09:05
(QHA) - UNESCO has suspended the voting rights of the United States and Israel, two years after both countries stopped paying dues to the U.N.’s cultural arm in protest over its granting full membership to the Palestinians, BBC informs. The U.S. decision to cancel its funding in October 2011 was blamed on U.S. laws that prohibit funding to any U.N. agency that implies recognition of the Palestinians’ demands for their own state. Israel also pulled its funding, objecting to what it called unilateral attempts by the Palestinians to gain recognition of statehood. As reported, both countries missed a deadline to provide an official justification for non-payment and a plan to pay back missed dues, a UNESCO source told Reuters. That automatically triggered suspension of their voting rights. Asked for his reaction, the U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO, David Killion, said Washington considers UNESCO a “critical partner in creating a better future.” “We intend to continue our engagement with UNESCO in every possible way,” Killion said. As reported, the U.S. loss of voting rights comes as Washington tries to keep peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians afloat. Both parties have signaled poor progress in the talks, which were revived in July after a three-year hiatus but recently became stymied over Israeli plans to continue building Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.