After Embracing PLO, UNESCO Lobbies to Circumvent U.S. Funding Penalty

UNESCO officials are braced for “months” of back-and-forth with the United States as they seek restoration of U.S. funding following mandated cuts in response to the Paris-based agency’s embrace of “Palestine” as a member, diplomatic sources report.

One confirmed that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has been seeking ways to effect a waiver of the law that mandates immediate cessation of Washington’s contributions to any UN agency that allows Palestinian membership. But this official added that the one key person holding out is Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Indeed, the Florida Republican launched a call this week for the United States to “strengthen and preserve” the funding prohibition law. In a press release, she says that the Obama administration has “failed” in what she describes as efforts to “gut” the law and restore Washington’s UNESCO contributions.

She also warns that granting a waiver to the law would encourage more UN agencies to embrace the Palestine entity.

The funding prohibition law makes no provision for a presidential waiver in the absence of Congressional consent, which Ros-Lehtinen – speaking in the wake of renewed Palestinian pledges to advance the Palestinian statehood cause at the UN – restates that she strongly opposes.

“As the Palestinian leadership continues their destructive statehood scheme at the UN, the U.S. must act decisively to stop this ruse,” Ros-Lehtinen says in her statement released Monday.

“Other than our Security Council veto, the only roadblock in Ramallah’s way is that by law, the U.S. must cut off funding to any UN body that grants membership to ‘Palestine.’”

Ros-Lehtinen says the law has deterred other agencies from opening their arms to the Palestinians, and that any dilution of it would have the opposite effect.

“The Administration wants Congress to gut U.S. law and let the Administration fund UN bodies that support the Palestinian statehood scheme,” Ros-Lehtinen’s statement says.

“But the Administration’s diplomatic efforts have failed to seriously impede the scheme; in contrast, leveraging our funding to the UN has succeeded, as others see that we mean business and that they can’t take reckless, anti-Israel actions with impunity.”

The statute emerged in the wake of successful efforts by President H.W. Bush to prevent the Palestine Liberation Organization – which preceded the Palestinian Authority – from joining agencies such as the World Health Organization and UNESCO.

“If we abandon this strategy now, we would telegraph an ‘all clear’ for UN bodies to grant de facto recognition of a Palestinian state,” Ros-Lehtinen warns.

The Congresswoman calls for the United States to respond with funding cuts to any UN gesture that enhances Palestinian status within the world body.

“We must further strengthen U.S. law to cut off funding to any UN body that not only grants membership to ‘Palestine,’ but even grants some other upgraded status to Ramallah,” she urges.

“That is how to stop this dangerous Palestinian scheme in its tracks.  Any maneuvers to undercut current law will serve to pave the way forward for the Palestinians.”

Irina Bokova, UNESCO director general, lobbied for a restoration of U.S. funding during a three-day visit to Washington last month, making the case that programs in Iraq and Afghanistan would be affected.

The United States provides all UN agencies with 22 percent of their respective budgets. UNESCO was also no exception to being granted extra-budgetary funding for specific programs.

9 Responses to “After Embracing PLO, UNESCO Lobbies to Circumvent U.S. Funding Penalty”


  • I wrote a Letter to the Editor that was published in The Greenville (South Carolina)News on January 8, 2012 (page 6A) in which I stated that “I am happy that the United States has cut off funding to this vile organization.”

  • UNESCO has already delegitimized Jewish holy places by officially declaring the cave where Jewish matriarchs Sara, Rebecca, and Leah are buried is a mosque and that Rachel’s Tomb is a mosque as well. Contrary to their assigned role of protecting holy places, UNESCO is destroying the Jewish ones. More power to the Florida congresswoman!

  • UNESCO’s decision to admit Palestine as its 195th member was unconstitutional since 129 affirmative votes were required under article II (2) of UNESCO’S Constitution – but only 107 votes were in fact obtained.

    I first drew this matter to UNESCO’S attention more than two months ago and suggested they review the legality of that decision and seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice.

    UNESCO has failed to rebut my claim or to justify the legality of its decision. UNESCO has stated it intends to make no comment on my claim.

    This silence from UNESCO convinces me that my argument has substance and merit.

    Instead of lobbying America to come up with a creative solution to circumventing American law to restore the loss of American funding to UNESCO as a result of what I claim to be an unlawful decision by UNESCO – wouldn’t UNESCO be better off employing its time and resources to establishing whether its decision to admit Palestine was indeed unlawful on the basis claimed by me above?

    If that decision was unlawful and was reversed – then America’s contribution of 22% of UNESCO’s budget would be restored overnight.

    If you agree with me then I would urge you to visit the following petition to UNESCO, to sign it and forward it to your friends and associates to also sign.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/unesco-review-palestines-unconstitutional-membership

    Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen’s demand that the law be observed stands in stark contrast to UNESCO’s apparent view that its Constitution can be flouted.

    Had the UNESCO’s Constitution been observed in the first place – UNESCO would not be faced with the huge black hole in its funding today.

    Meantime millions of people world wide suffer the prospect of seeing programs such as literacy, gender equality, and clean water initiatives curtailed through lack of funds.

    Go figure how UNESCO can allow that to happen – rather than immediately reviewing the legality of its decision that has led to this crisis.

  • —when are we ever going to learn. there is not a thing that the Pal. have ever promised that they followed thru. Israel gives, but never receive anything in return. Instead of making things better in theMiddle East we find that it becomes more difficult. Of we kekep adding to the fire the entire area will go up in flames. If we lose Isarel, we lose the entire area. The Cappital of the Muslim world will be where Israel once stood. The West wll then go into the “dung”heap. elils

  • UNESCO can restore American funding by reviewing its unlawful decision to admit Palestine on the votes of 107 member states – instead of the 129 votes required by UNESCO’S constitution.

    Why UNESCO refuses to carry out such a review is a mystery.

  • The duty of the UNESCO is to contribute to peace and security by promoting the rule of law, a universal respect for justice, and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world without distinction.

    Human Rights should be protected by the rule of law, to protect the dignity and the worth of the human person. Along the person come expressions and differences which should be celebrated and protected without interference from state, which is in itself a human right.

    Inernational and regional instruments are there to protect a number of key rights, and in the cases mentioned above for Palestine, it pertains to the right to culture.

    In article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
    “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author”.

    It takes SERIOUS DEMOCRACIES to implent and guard these rights, and Key Assistance Agencies and Civil Society Units are there to remind duties while promoting concretely the rights of people.

  • But there is no right to continued US funding in violation of US law.

  • The UNESCO vote in favor of admitting Palestine as a member is simply representative of the opinions of UN member states regarding the legitimate aspirations of Palestinian statehood. The Palestinian leadership recognizes Israel’s right to exist. The vast majority of UNESCO members recognize Palestine’s right to exist, why don’t Israel, the US, or the other people reading this blog? Palestine and Israel can negotiate for borders, but Palestine should not require permission from Israel or the US to exist as a state, this should not be and is not up for negotiation.

  • @ a rational person?” Either you are getting all of your news from Al-Jazeera or you my friend are also one of the many Propagandists reporting half truths and full out lies to the people of the world, who are unjustly and wickedly telling others that Israel is bombing the palestinians, but they and you, my friend, forget to tell the first part of the story of Israel’s getting bombarded.

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