The ball is now in Obama’s court.
(BBC) — The UN cultural organisation has voted strongly in favour of membership for the Palestinians – a move opposed by Israel and the United States.
Out of 173 countries voting, 107 were in favour, with 14 opposed and 52 abstentions.
Before the vote, the US said it would stop its funding to Unesco if the Palestinians’ bid was accepted.
The UN Security Council will vote in November on whether Palestine should become a full UN member state.
Membership of Unesco — perhaps best known for its World Heritage Sites — may seem a strange step towards statehood, says the BBC’s Jon Donnison, in Ramallah, but Palestinian leaders see it as part of a broader push to get international recognition and put pressure on Israel.
This is the first UN agency the Palestinians have sought to join since submitting their bid for recognition to the Security Council in September.
Under U.S. law the government is required to defund any organization that grants the Palestinians statehood, shockingly, the Obama admin is considering asking Congress to waive the law.
(Politico) — Under existing federal law, the American government must cut off funding for any international body that grants membership status to the Palestinian Authority. That includes not only UNESCO, which helps pave the path for U.S. companies to do business in developing countries, but also the related World Intellectual Property Organization, which resolves international disputes over music, movies and software.
That puts the administration is in a bind: The White House supports UNESCO’s mission, but even if it wanted to ask Congress to waive the law — and that would be a big political risk with Jewish voters and donors — there’s almost no chance that a waiver request would be granted. Still, it’s no small thing to just write off UNESCO.
The potential consequences to American businesses are important enough that the State Department has invited representatives of about two dozen technology and pharmaceutical companies and associations to participate in a discussion of the matter in Foggy Bottom Monday afternoon.