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UNESCO advanced 'new stage' for Palestine

Aug. 2, 2012 10:15 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 5, 2012 5:53 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestine entered a new stage internationally after being accepted as a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, PLO observer to the UN Riyad Mansour said Wednesday.

Palestine has attended four conferences recently as a member, including a discussion concerning maritime law and the standardization of geographical names of countries, Mansour told Ma'an.

The Palestinian delegation is working hard in the UN to explain the negative impact of settlement activity on the prospects for a two state solution, he added.

Plans to ask the UN to admit Palestine as a non-member state will be undertaken at an appropriate time, and President Abbas will hold further consultations with Arab and international bodies, Mansour said.

Last year, UNESCO granted Palestine full membership, a decision seen at the time as a boost to their bid, since largely stalled, to win UN recognition of statehood in the absence of peace talks with Israel.

Israel and the United States, which later cut off its $80 million annual funding of UNESCO, condemned the decision, saying negotiations -- which collapsed in 2010 -- were the only path to statehood.

On June 29, UNESCO declared Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity and the nearby pilgrimage route World Heritage sites.

Thirteen members of the 21-nation World Heritage Committee voted in favor of the Palestinian application, securing exactly the needed number of votes. Two countries abstained and six voted against the bid.
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