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Palestine gets full membership of UNESCO

February 20, 2014 at 3:14 pm

The Palestinian Authority’s application for full membership of UNESCO has been agreed by the UN body at a meeting in its Paris headquarters. With 107 member states voting in favour of Palestine’s membership fourteen, including the US and Israel, voted against; there were 52 abstentions, including Britain.

Eight EU countries voted for the application: France, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Luxembourg, Ireland, and Iceland. Cheers filled the hall after each “yes” vote in a process which the US described as “non-constructive and premature”. Washington has since withdrawn its funding from UNESCO, amounting to about 20% of the organisation’s total income.

UNESCO is the first UN agency for which Palestine has sought full membership in the context of the overall bid for independent statehood started in the UN General Assembly in September. Established in 1945, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, to give UNESCO its full name, has 193 member states. Its objective is “to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.”