UNnecessary UNESCO

2 November 2011

UNESCO: a punch more than a slap

See UNESCO NO!!!!!!!!!

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:

  1. Palestine does not fulfil the accepted requirements of a sovereign state under the Montevideo Convention 1933
    • 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.
  2. Palestine does not fulfil the requirements to be a member of UNESCO
    • 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.
  3. Palestine has a very poor record in protecting historic sites if they have a Jewish connection.
    • 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.
  4. Palestinians have a record of trying to exclude Jews from sites contested between Jews and Muslims.
  5. The unilateral moves for recognition in the UN and UNESCO directly contradict provisions in the Oslo accords.
    • Rewarding it will only bring the prospect of a negotiated settlement further away.
  6. The Americans have already withdrawn financial support. Others may follow. Including Palestine could cripple the organization. Perhaps that is not such a bad thing?
  7. Please feel free to add more reasons.

The Prediction

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.
More reading:

Action Item: Sign Simon Wiesenthal Center Protest ‘Palestine’ UNESCO Membership Petition Simon Wiesenthal Center


About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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