As had been expected, UNESCO—the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization—today accepted the Palestinian bid for full membership. The response from the Obama Administration was swift and direct.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice immediately called the action “deeply damaging,” noting, “Today’s vote to grant Palestinian membership in UNESCO is no substitute for direct negotiations, but it is deeply damaging to UNESCO.” White House spokesman Jay Carney called today’s action by UNESCO “premature.”
The State Department expanded on these statements, and asserted that the Administration will cut U.S. funding to UNESCO effective immediately. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland commented, “Today’s vote by the member states of UNESCO to admit Palestine as member is regrettable, premature and undermines our shared goal of a comprehensive just and lasing peace in the Middle East. The United States will refrain from making contributions to UNESCO.”
The U.S. representative to UNESCO—David Killion—addressed UNESCO members after the vote, saying that the United States “cannot accept the premature Palestinian admission for membership in a United Nations specialized agency such as UNESCO.”
CNN notes that the United States currently provides more than one-fifth of UNESCO’s funding.