Palestine's membership in UNESCO has met a fierce response from Israel. A day after Palestine joined the United Nations' cultural body, Israel ordered the accelerated construction of 2,000 new homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In what officials acknowledge is punishment for "unilateral actions," Israel has also temporarily frozen funds that it has collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, Voice of America reports.
Palestinian officials branded the move to rush settlement construction a decision to "speed up the destruction of the peace process," and accused Israel of "stealing money from the Palestinian people" by withholding revenue, the BBC reports. The US has cut off funding to UNESCO because of its decision to admit Palestine. Palestinian officials say they plan to apply for membership in 16 other United Nations bodies. (Read more UNESCO stories.)