2 November 2011
UNESCO: a punch more than a slap
Most of the coverage of UNESCO’s decision to admit Palestine as a full member of UNESCO can be summed up in two points: 1) Israel and America opposed it implying only them and 2) America threatened UNESCO with loss of funding implying coercion by Uncle Sam. Neither point is correct. I’ve tried to add some talking points about why Palestine shouldn’t have been admitted and a depressing prediction for the future.
The Nay Sayers
If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.Abba Eban
The vote was carried by 107 votes in favour of admission and 14 votes against, with 52 abstentions. More countries have joined since Eban’s day.
The ‘brave’ fourteen: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sweden, United States of America, Vanuatu.
The unexpected: France voted Yes after Sarkosy had announced the Palestinian bid for membership was premature.
The gutless: Great Britain abstained.
Should not be in UNESCO because:
Most countries explained their abstain/NO/absent vote on a technicality – a rather large technicality. Palestine does not exist as a country, perhaps yet. It has as much right to be there as Narnia.
There are other good reasons:
- Palestine does not fulfil the accepted requirements of a sovereign state under the Montevideo Convention 1933
- A sovereign state is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither dependent on nor subject to any other power or state.
- The UNESCO Constitution requires, belief in full and equal opportunities for education for all, in the unrestricted pursuit of objective truth, and in the free exchange of ideas and knowledge. That doesn’t match well with the academic boycott of Israeli institutions.
- As a major part of the Palestinian narrative is denying a Jewish connection to the Holyland they will continue destruction of evidence to the contrary. The vandalism on the Temple Mount is a case in point.
- For example, Rachel’s Tomb/ Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque near Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Patriachs/ Ibrahimi Mosque near Hebron.
- Rewarding it will only bring the prospect of a negotiated settlement further away.
The Palestinian unilateral move will bring violence in its wake. It will be seen, with some reason, as international acceptance of all Palestinian claims and will lead to a Palestinian move to make facts on the ground. They expect the world to protect them — they’ll be wrong. Peace is driven even further away.
- French Jewish groups call country’s UNESCO vote a betrayal, JTA, 1 November 2011
- NGO: PA doesn’t meet UNESCO statehood guidelines, Khaled abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, 1 November 2011
- Assessment of Member States’ advances to the Working Capital Fund for the biennium 2010-2011 and contributions to the United Nations regular budget for 2010 United Nations Secretariat, 24 December 2009
- What The UNESCO Vote Portends For The Palestinian Statehood Bid, David Singer, Daphne Anson blog, 4 November 2011