United States ceases UNESCO funding following Palestine vote

United States ceases UNESCO funding following Palestine vote

The United States has confirmed it will cease to fund the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) following a decision to allow Palestine full membership.

US funds account for approximately a quarter of the total budget of the body, which plays a significant role in the promotion of tourism through its World Heritage Sites programme.

The US decision is part of a wider campaign by the United States to prevent Palestine securing full statehood through the United Nations.

American president Barack Obama has argued the Palestinian diplomatic campaign detracts from tough bargaining needed with Israel to make real progress.

“We were to have made a $60 million payment to UNESCO in November and we will not be making that payment,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said following the decision.

The resolution approving Palestinian membership was adopted at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, with 107 countries voting in favour, with 14 voting against the move and 52 abstaining.

France, which had earlier expressed concerns, approved the motion along with almost all Arab, African, Latin American and Asian nations, including China and India.

Besides Israel and the United States, Canada, Australia and Germany voted against it, while Japan and Britain abstained.

The Palestinians previously had observer status at UNESCO.