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Palestine passes vote to become UNESCO member


08:32, November 01, 2011

PARIS, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Palestine on Monday was admitted to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a full member in a vote at the 193-member UN branch's general conference in Paris.

Palestinian National Authority has gained 107 votes for its membership bid in UNESCO with 14 countries against, UNESCO announced after the vote. Another 52 countries abstained, the organization said.

"Today's vote brings the number of UNESCO's Member States to 195," the UN cultural agency said in a brief statement. South Sudan has become the 194th Member State of the organization last Thursday.

The voting made UNESCO to be the first UN agency accepting the Palestinian National Authority as a full member since Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas applied for formal UN membership at the UN General Assembly on Sep. 23. The UN Security Council has decided to discuss the matter in November.

Earlier in October, UNESCO's Executive Board recommended accepting the Palestinian Authority as a full member state and agreed to vote on the issue during its 26th General Conference, which opened in Paris on Oct. 25 and will last till Nov. 10.

Palestine has to sign and ratify UNESCO Constitution deposited in the United Kingdom to effect its membership, the UNESCO statement added.

France is among the majority that voted for Palestine's membership, but Israel as well as the United States clearly opposed the Palestinian bid both in the United Nations and in the UN cultural branch.

The U.S. delegates have threatened to withdraw its share of funds financing the UNESCO if the Palestinian admission is accepted. Israeli envoy made the same remarks ahead of the voting but was said to be resigned to the result.

UNESCO depends on the United States for 22 percent of its annual budget, about 70 million dollars a year, according to a previous report by the New York Times. Israel's contribution accounts around 3 percent of the organization's annual budget, according to other reports.

The UNESCO General Conference is attended by member states and associate members, together with observers for non-member states, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Each Member State has one vote, irrespective of its size or the extent of its contribution to the budget.

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