Friday

19th Jan 2018

Unesco vote highlights EU split on Palestine

  • The Unesco HQ in Paris. Its director said the US funding decision could destabilise its budget (Photo: French Disko)

Just five EU countries voted "No" on admitting Palestine to the UN heritage agency, Unesco, in an indication of loyalties on the big question of UN membership.

The Czech Republic, Lithuania, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden voted against the move at the Paris-based agency on Monday (31 October).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovenia and Spain voted Yes. Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and the UK abstained.

Amid wide support from Muslim, African and Latin American countries, Palestine won the vote by 107 to 14 with 52 abstentions.

The US and Israel said in response to the development they will stop funding Unesco. The move will cost the body, which sponsors science projects and protects heritage sites, $90 million a year - more than a fifth of its income. "I am worried about the stability of its budget," Unesco chief Irina Bokova noted.

For his part, Palestinian foreign minister Riad Malki said the vote is "in no way linked to our request to join the United Nations."

But the result is an indication of how EU countries might vote in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on upgrading Palestine's status to a "non-member state" like the Vatican. It also highlights divisions in EU foreign policy, with the bloc's three main powers - France, Germany and the UK - each voting a different way.

Palestine applied for full UN membership in September in a bid to protect its territory from Israeli settlements.

The application is doomed because it has no majority in the UN Security Council. Even if it did, the US would veto it. But a UNGA-level upgrade to a "non-member state" would be a diplomatic victory and would give Palestine new rights, such as bringing cases against Israel to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

The EU's official position is that Israel and Palestine should resume peace talks.

Israel in the past two months authorised thousands of new homes for Jews on Palestinian land, however. Its foreign minister has launched verbal attacks on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Its recent firefight with the Gaza-based militants of Islamic Jihad also bodes ill.

Meanwhile, the new settlements are deepening Israel's isolation.

German press reported on Monday that Berlin has threatened to stop delivery of a Dolphin class submarine, capable of firing nuclear missiles, to the Jewish state over its plan to build new homes in the Gilo settlement in East Jerusalem.

EU and US criticise Israel ahead of UN showdown

The EU, Russia, the US and the UN have spoken out against Israel's decision to create more houses for Jews on Palestinian land ahead of a UN vote on Palestine's future.

EU opinions multiply on Palestinian UN upgrade

Five EU countries have joined France in saying the UN should upgrade Palestine's status. Three have joined the UK in saying No. Others fall in between the two camps or are staying out of the debate for now.

Palestine fed up with waiting for EU common position

Palestine's ambassador to the EU has said Mahmoud Abbas will on Friday ask the UN Security Council for full UN membership despite last-minute British, French and US warnings not to go ahead.

Interview

Palestine's UN upgrade coming back on EU agenda

The EU should get ready for Palestine's renewed push to upgrade its UN status and stop calling for "illusory" peace talks with Israel, a senior Palestinian politician has said.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia