Palestine's bid for statehood took one step forward yesterday as it gained initial approval for full membership in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Membership in UNESCO would allow Palestine to apply to protect its monuments and historical sites as World Heritage Sites, which would increase conflict with Israel since some of those sites are in disputed territory. But if membership is granted, US law may require a cutoff of all contributions to the UN and its agencies—a serious move, since 22% of UNESCO's budget comes from the US.
The 193-nation General Conference, which meets later this month, would have to approve Palestine's full membership in UNESCO, the New York Times reports, which is part of Palestine's campaign for full UN membership and statehood. The AFP reports that Hillary Clinton called the UNESCO decision "confusing" and "inexplicable," noting that "the decision about status must be made in the United Nations and not in auxiliary groups." The US has promised to veto a statehood bid on the UN Security Council, but no power has a veto on UNESCO. (Read more UNESCO stories.)