The U.S. cuts funding to UNESCO after Palestinians granted full membership

The U.S. cuts funding to UNESCO after Palestinians granted full membership The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted overwhelmingly in favor of granting full membership to the Palestinian Authority, with 104 votes for, 14 against, and 52 abstaining. While it is merely a step toward the goal of Palestinian statehood, it is ...

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547799_111101_1310014402.jpg

The U.S. cuts funding to UNESCO after Palestinians granted full membership

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted overwhelmingly in favor of granting full membership to the Palestinian Authority, with 104 votes for, 14 against, and 52 abstaining. While it is merely a step toward the goal of Palestinian statehood, it is seen as an important symbolic victory as Palestinians wait for an uncertain decision from the U.N. Security Council on their bid for full membership status in the United Nations that could come in November. Palestinian Authority official Yasser Abed-Rabbo said, "It means that the majority of the world supports Palestinians' right to become an independent state and a member of the international community." Just hours after the announcement, the United States said it would block a payment of $60 million to UNESCO in compliance with a law from the early 1990s that barred congress from providing funding for any U.N. body that offers state status to the Palestinian territories. If the U.S. follows through, it will reduce UNESCO's funding by 22 percent. UNESCO has survived without U.S. funds in the past when the United States pulled out of the body under President Ronal Reagan and only re-entered under President Bush in 2003. Regardless, the policy could have serious ramifications for the United States, especially as the Palestinians continue seeking recognition at other international bodies -- such as the World Trade Organization and the International Criminal Court.

The U.S. cuts funding to UNESCO after Palestinians granted full membership

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted overwhelmingly in favor of granting full membership to the Palestinian Authority, with 104 votes for, 14 against, and 52 abstaining. While it is merely a step toward the goal of Palestinian statehood, it is seen as an important symbolic victory as Palestinians wait for an uncertain decision from the U.N. Security Council on their bid for full membership status in the United Nations that could come in November. Palestinian Authority official Yasser Abed-Rabbo said, “It means that the majority of the world supports Palestinians’ right to become an independent state and a member of the international community.” Just hours after the announcement, the United States said it would block a payment of $60 million to UNESCO in compliance with a law from the early 1990s that barred congress from providing funding for any U.N. body that offers state status to the Palestinian territories. If the U.S. follows through, it will reduce UNESCO’s funding by 22 percent. UNESCO has survived without U.S. funds in the past when the United States pulled out of the body under President Ronal Reagan and only re-entered under President Bush in 2003. Regardless, the policy could have serious ramifications for the United States, especially as the Palestinians continue seeking recognition at other international bodies — such as the World Trade Organization and the International Criminal Court.

Headlines  

  • As NATO ends its operation in Libya, the NTC elected a little known wealthy businessman and professor of electrical engineering, Abdel Rahim al-Keib, as the new interim prime minister.
  • As violence continues in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad has failed to respond to the Arab League plan to end the conflict and NATO ruled out a military intervention.
  • According to an Egyptian official, after days of clashes with Gaza, Israel will delay further military action to give Egypt time to broker another ceasefire.
  • The trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been postponed until December 28, amid calls by alleged victims for the replacement of the presiding judge, Ahmed Refax.

Daily Snapshot

Muslim piligrims walk around the holy Kaaba inside Mecca’s Grand Mosque on October 31, 2011, as more than 1.5 million Muslims have arrived in Saudi Arabia for the hajj pilgrimage to the shrine city, the world’s largest annual human assembly which peaks on November 5, according to local state media (FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images). 

Arguments & Analysis

‘Why contain Iran when it own aims will do just that?’ (Vali Nasr, Bloomberg)

“Iran expects greater influence in Iraq and Afghanistan once U.S. troops leave, but with that will come greater burdens. Once absent, America can no longer be the focus of opposition in both places. Instead, Iran may replace the U.S. as the target of popular anger, blamed for the failure of government to meet people’s needs. Iran may prove no more able to pacify Iraq and Afghanistan than the U.S. has been. Iran is adept at causing security headaches in the region but is untested when it comes to resolving them. Failure on that front would leave Iran, rather than the U.S., in the middle of renewed civil conflict in Iraq or Afghanistan. It also would have direct implications for Iran domestically. Renewed chaos in either country would send refugees flooding into Iran and increase drug trafficking and violence in the border areas. Iran may come to remember fondly the period when the U.S. military absorbed resentments in the region.”

‘Armies and civilians in the Arab Spring’ (Yezid Sayigh, The Daily Star)

“Arab militaries responded to 2011’s popular uprisings in various ways, but always with one of two consequences. In Tunisia and Egypt, the decision of regime-loyalist commanders to abandon their presidents allowed quick transfers of power and cut short bloodshed. Conversely, in Libya, Yemen and Syria, militaries fragmented, moved to the sidelines, or remained loyal, thus enabling incumbents to fight for their power. The Tunisian and Egyptian responses were largely shaped by the officer corps’ considerable institutional autonomy and professionally formed cohesion; the latter by the intermeshing of the military-government hierarchy with social groups: family, tribe, region or sect. The immediate implications are relatively straightforward — if stark. In Libya, Yemen and Syria, the renegotiation of civil-military relations will focus on the fundamental purpose of the national armed forces: Is it to defend the borders against external foes, or to preserve the political power of particular domestic parties?”

‘There aren’t protets in Qatar — so why did the King just announce elections?’ (Shadi Hamid, The Atlantic)

“In a region of stodgy, unimaginative leaders, these sorts of moves entailed a degree of risk for Qatar. But, Qatar’s leaders, particularly the Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and the prime minister, Hamad bin Jassem, seemed to take pleasure in Qatar’s scrappiness and, increasingly, the recognition it received as a key player in the Arab spring. They were, to use a phrase, ahead of the curve. And they may be adopting a similar model at home. Despite few domestic demands for democratic reform and virtually no visible opposition, the Qatari leadership decided to “preempt” and take the initiative before anyone thought to ask. It has now become even more difficult than it already was to envision a critical mass of Qataris attacking the government for ignoring internal reform. Top-down reforms are most effective in absorbing dissent the earlier they come. But to what end?”

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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