Posts tagged UNESCO
“Diplomatic Victory” of PA according to the RCC
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
The report said the Roman Catholic Church said the UNESCO decision was a “diplomatic victory” for the Palestinian Authority, but it also called on the PA to respect existing arrangements dividing care of the site between the Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches.
“There is an internal regulation, the status quo, which regulates the relations between the various Christian communities and their rights and duties in relation to the operation and maintenance of the (Church of the) Nativity,” AFP quoted a statement from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. “”It is desirable that UNESCO and the Palestinian Authority respect this and intervene only in exceptional cases.”
On Friday, UNESCO’s World Heritage committee approved a Palestinian Authority bid to place the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on its list of sites of World Heritage in Danger. The 21-member committee, meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, voted 13-6 to include the church and pilgrimage route on its list of sites. There were two abstentions.
Dangerously mixing politics and culture
Israel angrily denounced the vote. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Ilana Stein said the decision “has turned UNESCO into a theater of the absurd.”
“This is a sad day for the World Heritage Committee,” she said. The move was seen by some nations as dangerously mixing politics and culture.
The drive to get the church quickly recognized as a World Heritage site is part of the PA’s bid to win international recognition.
“The fact that the Palestinian Authority worked for this (UNESCO) declaration represents a diplomatic victory,” the patriarchate said, according to AFP. “Bethlehem is part of the Palestinian territories, so it was for the Palestinian Authority a right and indeed a duty.”
The application cited lack of regular restoration of the church due to the political situation since 1967, when Israel liberated Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron) during the Six Day War. The application also cited difficulties procuring equipment because of lack of free movement imposed by Israeli forces.
The application to place the Church on the World Heritage list shows the PA plans to put forward other sites for prestigious World Heritage recognition, eventually linking various landmarks to the life of Jesus.
In a controversial decision, UNESCO accepted the PA as a member last October, after 107 members voted in favor of the motion. Only 14 nations voted against the PA, including the United States, Canada, Germany and Israel.
The move prompted the United States to cut off funding to the organization, due to a longstanding law that prohibits U.S. support for any United Nations-affiliated body that accepts Palestinian Authority membership.
The organization was later forced to temporarily suspend new welfare programs in third world countries due to the large hole in its budget created by the loss of U.S. funds, so that much suffering of those whom UNESCO is intended to benefit was caused by the move.
The agency recently claimed that the Matriarch Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs [Me'arat Hamachpela, the Patriarch's Cave] are not exclusively Jewish sites and also belong to Christians and Muslims. – Source – IsraelNationalNews
Next stop, the White House
The Palestinian flag will be hoisted Tuesday at UNESCO headquarters, over a month after its admission to the UN cultural agency sparked anger and reprisals from the United States and Israel.
President Mahmud Abbas will travel to Paris to attend the event, which led Washington to pull funding to the UN organisation, and which is seen by many as a step on the Palestinians’ road to eventual UN membership.
“President Abbas wants to show the importance he attaches to UNESCO,” said a Palestinian diplomat. “And this is the first time that the flag will be flown at the headquarters of a UN institution.”
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation says the flag-hoisting is a symbolic ceremony “to mark Palestine’s admission to the organisation” that takes place each time a new member joins.
The Palestinians were admitted to the body in late October, when the UNESCO general assembly voted 107-14 to make Palestine its 195th member.
The result angered the United States, Israel’s staunch ally, which says the Palestinians must first reach a peace agreement with Israel before they can become full members of an international organization.
Washington immediately suspended its funding to the UN body, which selects and oversees World Heritage sites and also works in areas from literacy and media freedom to science and environmental issues.
US President Barack Obama said he had frank and firm words with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, voicing US disappointment because Paris had supported the Palestinian UNESCO bid.
The US cash freeze deprived UNESCO of 22 percent of its budget, leaving a hole of $65 million this year and a $143 million shortfall for 2012-2013.
This forced its director general, Irina Bokova, to announce drastic savings, even though some countries pledged exceptional contributions, among them Indonesia with $10 million and Gabon with $2 million.
Israel, for its part, took its own retaliatory measures, by deciding to accelerate settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and freezing the transfer of funds to the Palestinian Authority.
Every month, Israel transfers tens of millions of dollars in customs duties on Palestinian-bound goods that transit through Israeli ports, but it often freezes them as a punitive measure during disagreements.
Faced with international criticism, Israel later lifted its freeze on the funds which represent a large chunk of the Palestinian Authority’s budget.
UNESCO membership has had no impact on the Palestinians’ bid for full UN membership. They would need nine votes out of 15 in the Security Council, but the United States has made clear that it would veto the bid.
Abbas, who reiterated on December 5 that he would push on with his campaign for UN membership, will meet Sarkozy after the UNESCO ceremony, then go on a tour that takes him to the capitals of Britain and Turkey. source – Yahoo News
PARIS — Palestine became a full member of the U.N. cultural and educational agency Monday, in a highly divisive move that the United States and other opponents say could harm renewed Mideast peace efforts.
U.S. lawmakers had threatened to withhold roughly $80 million in annual funding to UNESCO if it approved Palestinian membership. The United States provides about 22 percent of UNESCO’s funding.
Huge cheers went up in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization after delegates approved the membership in a vote of 107-14 with 52 abstentions. Eighty-one votes were needed for approval in a hall with 173 UNESCO member delegations present.
“Long Live Palestine!” shouted one delegate, in French, at the unusually tense and dramatic meeting of UNESCO’s General Conference.
While the vote has large symbolic meaning, the issue of borders of an eventual Palestinian state, security troubles and other disputes that have thwarted Middle East peace for decades remain unresolved.
Palestinian officials are seeking full membership in the United Nations, but that effort is still under examination and the U.S. has said it will veto it unless there is a peace deal with Israel. Given that, the Palestinians separately sought membership at Paris-based UNESCO and other U.N. bodies.
Monday’s vote is definitive. The membership formally takes effect when Palestine signs UNESCO’s founding charter.
The U.S. ambassador to UNESCO, David Killion, said Monday’s vote will “complicate” U.S. efforts to support the agency. The United States voted against the measure.
Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, called the vote a tragedy.
“UNESCO deals in science, not science fiction,” he said. “They forced on UNESCO a political subject out of its competence.”
“They’ve forced a drastic cut in contributions to the organization,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week called UNESCO’s deliberation “inexplicable,” saying discussion of Palestinian membership in international organizations couldn’t replace negotiations with Israel as a fast-track toward Palestinian independence. source – MSNBC
Palestine or bust
UNESCO’s general assembly will vote Monday on whether to grant Palestine full member status, a move that would cut millions of dollars in US funding to the UN cultural agency, UNESCO sources said.
The vote is to take place the same day Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki addresses the assembly, the sources told AFP.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation on Tuesday started holding its general assembly, which, like the UN General Assembly in New York, is to vote on Palestinian membership.
But while as a permanent UN Security Council member the US has a veto that it says it will exercise at the General Assembly, no one has a veto at UNESCO, where a two-thirds majority of its 193 voting members suffices.
Arab states braved intense US and French diplomatic pressure to bring the motion before the UNESCO executive committee earlier this month, which passed it by 40 votes in favour to four against, with 14 abstentions.
Palestine currently has observer status at UNESCO and diplomats told AFP that it would have no problem garnering the required votes to become a full member.
Such a move would automatically spark a crisis between Washington and UNESCO, as two laws passed by Israel’s staunchest ally in the 1990s ban the financing of any United Nations organisation that accepts Palestine as a full member.
UNESCO stands to lose $70 million, or 22 percent of its annual budget. source – Yahoo News
Another step closer
Palestine won a first diplomatic victory in its quest for statehood on Wednesday when the UNESCO executive committee backed its bid to become a member of the cultural body with the rights of a state.
Palestine’s Arab allies braved intense US and French diplomatic pressure to bring the motion before the committee’s member states, which passed it by 40 votes in favour to four against, with 14 abstentions.
The Palestinian bid will now be submitted to the UNESCO general assembly at the end of the month for final approval.
The United States urged all delegates to vote “no” at the general assembly, with its ambassador to the Paris-based body, David Killion, saying that “granting the Palestinians full membership now in a specialised agency such as UNESCO is premature”.
US Republican lawmaker Kay Granger, who chairs the key subcommittee that disburses US monies for diplomatic purposes said in a statement that she “will advocate for all funding to be cut off”, if UNESCO accepted the Palestinians in as a state. Killion said it was “inappropriate” for UNESCO to consider Palestine as a recognised member, while the United Nations Security Council was reviewing a Palestinian request for statehood recognition. This request, which Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 23, will likely be voted on in the coming weeks. source – Yahoo News