Obama Administration seeks UNESCO funding as session targets Israel in 5 agenda items

In the same week that UNESCO opened its Executive Board session with five anti-Israel agenda items, the Obama Administration asked Congress to waive legislative restrictions and approve $77.7 million in funding for the Paris-based agency.

From the 2014 budget request:

The Administration seeks Congressional support for legislation that would provide authority to waive legislative restrictions that, if triggered, would prohibit paying U.S. contributions to United Nations specialized agencies that grant the Palestinians the same standing as member states or full membership as a state. Should the Congress pass this waiver legislation, the FY 2014 funding specifically requested for UNESCO would cover the FY 2014 UNESCO assessment and the FY 2013 and FY 2014 Contingent Requirements funding would cover arrears which accrued in FY 2012 and FY 2013.

(See submission by Sec. John Kerry p. 45, note 2.)

The explanation for the requested waiver — which significantly would also guarantee funding to any other UN agencies that follow UNESCO’s lead — is provided here:

The Administration is committed to robust multilateral engagement and to promoting U.S. leadership in international organizations as a means of advancing U.S. national security interests and values. For this reason, the Administration seeks Congressional support for legislation that would provide authority to waive legislative restrictions that, if triggered, would prohibit paying U.S. contributions to United Nations specialized agencies that grant the Palestinians the same standing as member states or full membership as a state. The ability to make such contributions is essential to advancing U.S. interests worldwide and strengthening U.S. global leadership, influence, and credibility. While the Administration remains committed to heading off any new efforts by the Palestinians to seek such membership in organizations across the UN system, these moves may well continue, and the law as currently written runs counter to U.S. national security interests by allowing the Palestinians to isolate the United States and prevent the active U.S. engagement necessary to pursue U.S. policy objectives in international organizations. In turn, the United States would lose influence and eventually voting rights in international organizations.

(See submission by Sec. John Kerry p. 44.)

Controversy over the funding request for UNESCO is covered by journalist Patrick Goodenough here.

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