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Palestinian delegation prepares for UNESCO vote
Published Monday 24/10/2011 (updated) 26/10/2011 11:14
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A worshiper stands inside the Church of the Nativity, the site revered as the
birthplace of Jesus, in Bethlehem on Oct. 10, 2011. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Palestinian officials are preparing for an intense diplomatic battle as UNESCO opens its General Conference on Tuesday.

UNESCO's board decided on Oct. 5 to let 193 member states vote on a Palestinian application to upgrade from observer status to full membership of the cultural body.

The vote is expected to take place during the two-week general assembly meeting which opens Tuesday in Paris.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged the governing body of UNESCO "to think again before proceeding with that vote" and said the US might cut off funding to the agency if it admitted Palestine. The US pays 22 percent of UNESCO's dues.

Palestinian sources involved in the bid told Ma'an that UNESCO's Director-General Irina Bokova flew to Washington shortly after the board issued its decision to allow a vote and returned convinced that the US would see through its threats to withdraw funding.

The sources said it was possible that Palestine would win the two-thirds majority needed to secure membership, but that consultations were underway to find a compromise and avoid a split among members which could paralyze UNESCO's work.

One possibility discussed was to grant Palestine full membership, but on the condition that it would not come into effect for six to nine months, once Palestine's bid to join the UN has been decided and to allow time for negotiations with Israel.

The proposal could persuade European nations not to oppose the Palestinian application, officials said.

Palestinian Authority Tourism Minister Khloud Daibes on Monday defended Palestine's right to join UNESCO, telling Reuters, "The question is not if the Palestinian has the right but why the Palestinians until now are not a member of this international organization?"

She said that after gaining full UNESCO membership, the PA would revive its bid to secure World Heritage status for Bethlehem and its Church of the Nativity, revered as the birthplace of Jesus. The nomination was rejected this year because Palestine was not a full UNESCO member.

Bethlehem resident Hisham Khimaees said he hoped membership of UNESCO would help to increase local income from tourism.

"First thing it means to me as a resident that the importance of Bethlehem city will internationally increase. Also the tourists will come more to Bethlehem and this is good for the city of Bethlehem and its residents and will increase the national income of Bethlehem," Khimaees said.

UNESCO is the first UN agency to which Palestinians have applied for full membership since President Mahmoud Abbas submitted a request to become a member state of the United Nations on September 23, also in the face of stiff US opposition.

Washington says negotiations with Israel are the only way for the Palestinians to achieve statehood.

Reuters contributed to this report.
1 ) southparkbear / usa
24/10/2011 23:22
don't forget to shave the legs

2 ) Salma / Palestine
25/10/2011 11:19
Palestine would become a FULL member of UNESCO. A step in the right direction, after all palestinians are one of the most educated people in the middle east.

3 ) Natalie / Ramallah
25/10/2011 11:20
UNESCO membership could offer the Palestinians a key bargaining chip by allowing them to seek protected U.N. status for Palestinian cultural heritage sites.

4 ) Ali / Gaza
25/10/2011 11:23
Something tells me that Palestine will get UNESCO recognitio?n this year !

5 ) Goerge / Ramallah
25/10/2011 11:24

6 ) Amal / Ramallah
25/10/2011 11:27
First great victory for Palestine.

7 ) Palestinian / Dubai
25/10/2011 12:21
America's position on Palestine is silly, puzzling, and, racist. It doesn't make any sense to oppose for Palestinians to be educated, scientific and cultural.

8 ) Nancy / Amman
25/10/2011 12:23
UNESCO has about 200 member states. The US has 1 vote and is paying 22% of the UNESCO budget. America is not the world.

9 ) Salma / Palestine
25/10/2011 15:26
#1) and you don't forget to shave your tongue ...lol

10 ) Tibi / Tubas
25/10/2011 15:36
The United Nations treats the PLO like a crying baby, putting a UNRWA "pacifier" in it's mouth, and it is time to stop !!

The United Nations should NOT expect Israel to give anything
( NOT another 10 month freeze, or even a 9 day freeze ),
WITHOUT the PLO immediately giving something in return !!!

And, if the PLO refuses to show-up for face-to-face talks,
and also to make tough compromises, then the United Nations
should include end all "Palestine" discussions & resolutions !!!

11 ) Nour / One-State
25/10/2011 15:37
Once again the US works its hardest to torpedo Palestinian self-determination, and NOT to support it. This proves that the negotiations charade was a ploy meant to buy time for "Israel"'s settlement enterprise. When will these people learn that Palestine's independence is in fact non-negotiable? No independent country gained its independence through negotiations, it's a myth imposed solely on the brutalized and dispossessed Palestinian people. Go to the UNGA and fuc$ America.

12 ) 2 Nancy / Amman
25/10/2011 17:20
Say good bye to 22% of UNESCO's budget. Palestine should not be a member because it is not yet an independent country.

13 ) Reality / Czech
25/10/2011 17:23
@Nour, Slovakia gained its independence though negotiations as did the Vatican.

14 ) yeah... read more world / history about that
25/10/2011 19:58
#13 now check how many countries gained independence not through negotiations... last week there was even a discussion about US independence-this is one of many examples... Oh and Israel didn't get its independence through negotiations... even the declaration wasn't legal- it was in may 1948 and according to the UN resolution it supposed to be october 1948- israel's legality is not a clear issue... read Simha Flapan on the context of israel's independence...don't be naive about the negotiations

15 ) kk / jj
25/10/2011 20:09
#13 lol dude...the US didn't negotiate, Israel declared independence not according to UN borders and date-read why... read about countries in Latin America, Asia... dude who are you fooling? Isr used past negotiations to steal more land, and that is a fact- the increase of settlement occurred during those "negotiations" and read for example:The Truth About Camp David: The Untold Story About the Collapse of the Middle East Peace Process by Clayton E. Swisher not to mention the Oslo Accords...

16 ) Reality / Czech
25/10/2011 20:40
# 14 & 15 - Nour said "No independent country gained its independence through negotiations" and that is incorrect.

If either of you think continued warfare or the UN is going to bring independence to Palestine without negotiations, I believe you are the ones being naive.

17 ) Citizen of / The World
26/10/2011 20:07
[1] The UN's Educational, Scientific, & Cultural Organization will have need of contributions from an organization, that specialized in abductions for ransom, drive-by shootings, making home-made bombs & rockets, and using them against civilian Targets cities, "Only When Pigs Fly", and [2] If the UN should ever create an organization for non-states, with a strong racist bias, and a murderous political agenda to achieve it, then by all means the PLO and Hamas should be admitted !!!!!!

18 ) @ Nour #11 / Tibi
26/10/2011 20:12
The ones group "working its hardest to torpedo Palestinian self-determination" is the PLO itself, since all that is required is: [1] Negotiations, leading to [2] Compromise, leading to [3] Peace, leading to [4] Freedom & Statehood both !!!!!

19 ) Sherri Munnerlyn / US
28/10/2011 23:24
UNESCO needs to let the US go, and learn to live without them. US money comes with too much baggage, too many strings attached. The US has no integrity and no committment to intl law being abided by.
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