Tuesday

26th Jul 2016

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).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

MEPs fear further 'Putinisation' of Turkey

MEPs criticised the harsh crackdown in Turkey after last week's failed coup, and warned that Ankara must not go down the road towards an authoritarian regime, in an extraordinary meeting of the EP's foreign affairs committee.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels