Palestine, UNESCO, and the U.S. are on a collision course. It will be instructive to see which one blinks first. U.S. law calls for cutting funding for any UN body that supports a Palestinian state. UNESCO is poised to do so this week. If it does, the U.S. would be forced to withhold its contribution equal to 22% of the organization’s annual budget, $70-million. Doing so would cripple it, forcing it to curtail international aid programs that support U.S. values throughout the world including in third-world countries like Afghanistan.
Who will blink? If you believe the Obama administration, the U.S. can’t. The law constrains it. UNESCO could modify its proposal to accord Palestine less than full state recognition or the Palestinians could agree to accept something less. I strongly support full recognition for Palestine as part of the a gradual process leading to international recognition. It’s critical that UNESCO lead the way on this so that the General Assembly may follow.
The U.S. should be put to the test. Force them to withdraw the funding and make them look like the hypocrites they are for acting in ways that directly contradict stated national policy supporting a Palestinian state. Make Republicans in Congress pay for their intransigence in supporting this betrayal of western democratic values in the world arena. Cut UNESCO programs temporarily if you have to. Ask Arab states to replenish the lost funds. I’ll do my own part with a personal donation and ask readers to do the same if the vote goes in favor of Palestine.
Piotr Berman says
The god news is that UNESCO is one of the most popular charities in the world and member assessments are about 1/3 of the total expenditures. This American assessment is about 1/15 of the total spending of UNESCO (individual American contribute too, e.g. by buying popular UNESCO greeting cards).
I rhink UNESCO could raise money by running TV ads in developed countries, which could not but give black mark to USA.
This dilemma for Obama is exactly the sort of buttons that the Palestinians should be pressing, precisely because it brings home to the USA that there is a cost involved in giving unconditional support to Israel.
In this case, the cost is obvious: the USA will be forced to shoot itself in the foot by removing funds from an organization that is actually – and actively – promoting USA interests.
Well – gosh! who would have thought it? – shooting yourself in the foot *hurts*, and if the USA is forced to do this enough times then maybe they will think to ask the all-important question: Why Are We Doing This To Ourselves?
It’s only then that they’ll re-evaluate the cost-benefit of America’s unconditional support for an ungrateful and intransigent “ally”.
But if it costs the USA nothing then it has no reason to re-evaluate that support, even if that support makes no sense.
I find the application of the Palestinian to be a member of Unesco very hypocrite as they are well-knowned for “keeping” and preserving of world-class heritage buildings as the tomb of rachel and Josef. Yep, that sounds very “unesco” for me.
The only hypocrisy comes from Palestinian which don’t want to sit and negotiate. They want to get a state without negotiating the core problems. They want to get a state without securing Israel’s security. They want to get a state without negotiating borders. They just don’t want to sit and negotiate.
Richard Silverstein says
Afraid it’s YOUR government that refuses to negotiate the core problems such as sharing Jerusalem, returning to 67 borders, & return of refugees expelled in 48. If Israel were to concede on these issues the Palestinians would offer Israel security up the Yazoo.
“Afraid it’s YOUR government that refuses to negotiate the core problems such as sharing Jerusalem, returning to 67 borders, & return of refugees expelled in 48” – Hmmm… Well, I think that it’s the Palestinians which refusing to sit and negotiate the terms as were decided by the Quartet (Borders and Security first). Not Israel but NEVERMIND.
Return of refugees expelled in 48 – and maybe about those who decided to leave their houses because the Arabs army told them too? Maybe you should read the ruling by the The European Court of Human Rights about DEMOPOULOS AND OTHERS.
Richard Silverstein says
Do you have any way of distinguishing which refugees left and the varying reasons why each left? I didn’t think so. So I’ll just call the nearly 1 million refugees expelled. You can go try to figure out how many left because Arab radio told them to or for whatever reason.
As for UNSC 242, about 12 right wing pro Israel commenters here have already tried to plough this ground & we’re not going over it again. Nor are we going to argue about nearly 50 yr old UN resolutions. Finally, you’re deliberately distorting the oveall meaning of the resolution in order to defend Occupation, which is entirely illegal under international law & indefensible under any circumstances (unless you’re an Israeli ultra nationalist).
“The only hypocrisy comes from Palestinian which don’t want to sit and negotiate.”
The problem comes about because of this:
1) The Palestinians have R.I.G.H.T.S. under int’l law, and those R.I.G.H.T.S. have been internationally recognized by everyone but Israel.
2) The Israelis have D.E.M.A.N.D.S., and they insist that those D.E.M.A.N.D.S. be met even though nothing in int’l law grants them any entitlements.
So when you suggest that the “Palestinian which don’t want to sit and negotiate” then you are – at its core – bemoaning the fact that the Palestinians are showing an unwillingness to concede their R.I.G.H.T.S. merely to placate the Israeli D.E.M.A.N.D.S.
And, let’s be honest for a moment, what should they?
After all, they don’t owe Israel anything…..
@johnboy and Richard – When you say “The Palestinians have R.I.G.H.T.S. under int’l law, and those R.I.G.H.T.S. have been internationally recognized by everyone but Israel” and “returning to 67 borders” how does it settles with 242 resuloution that calls Israel for the “Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied” and not from ALL of the territories? And what rights are we talking about? Really want to know.
First things first: Res 242 is a Security Council resolution, and as such the council was concerned with undoing a “threat to the peace” caused by the Six Day War.
So why “territories” and not “ALL the territories”?
Because doing the latter would remove any option for mutually-agreed-upon border adjustments.
And this is axiomatic: every country is entitled to offer an exchange of territory with the neighbours.
But here is the important point: that missing “ALL” does not grant Israel a right to DEMAND to keep “some of the territories occupied”.
We know that for a fact, because Res 242 was very careful to also include this line of text: “emphasing the inadmissiblity of the acquisition of territory by war”.
Israel simply can not DEMAND that it be allowed to keep any of the West Bank. It has no right to make such a demand, precisely because that would involve the “acquisition of territory by war”, and that is unconditionally prohibited by int’l law.
It can “ask”, sure.
It can “make an offer”, no question.
It can even “beg” (tho Israel doesn’t do “begging”).
But the outcome is the same in every case i.e. if the Palestinians say “no deal” then Israel can not keep that territory, precisely because:
1) It isn’t Israel’s territory to keep, and
2) It can’t acquire that territory merely because it seized that territory at the point of a gun in 1967.
Is that clear?
On the rights that the Palestinians have under int’l law….
Their right to the territory of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is anchored in UNGA Resolution 181, when the UN granted its “consent” to a Plan of Partition.
It is important to understand HOW that resolution grants a legal right to the Palestinians i.e. it is not because that was a UNGA resolution, but because the General Assembly itself had inherited the “supervisory” role over the Mandatory once the old League of Nations folded.
There is no question that a Mandatory could (e.g. Lebanon and Jordan) partition a Mandate, but any such “plan” requires the “consent” of its supervisory body (i.e. Article 25 of Mandate).
Which is exactly what UNGA181 was i.e. it was a vote of “consent” to the Partition Plan, and according to the original articles of Mandate that’s all that a Mandatory requires for any decision to Partition to be perfectly legal and quite legally-binding.
Note that this *is* the internationally-recognized position, because each and every year the UNGA votes (by an overwhelming majority) to reaffirm the UN’s recognition of the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and to a state of their own.
Note also that the PLO’s 1988 declaration of the state of Palestine anchors itself in UNGA 181, as it should, just as the Jewish Agency’s 1948 declaration of Israel also anchored itself on UNGA 181.
Note also that the International Court of Justice in 2004 was asked for an advisory opinion on the security wall, and part of that opinion was this: “The Court has also held that the right of self-determination as an established and recognized right under international law applies to the territory and to the Palestinian people. Accordingly, the exercise of such right entitles the Palestinian people to a State of their own as originally envisaged in resolution 181 (II) and subsequently confirmed.”
There simply can not be any “disputing” the status of this territory i.e. it belongs to the Palestinian people, and they not only have a R.I.G.H.T. to declare a sovereign state on that territory; they have already done so, back in 1988.