Emboldened Palestinians Seek Membership in 16 More UN Agencies

Tuesday, 01 Nov 2011 02:27 PM

By Jim Meyers

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One day after the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to grant the Palestinian Authority full membership in the agency, a Palestinian diplomat said the Palestinians will seek membership in 16 other U.N. agencies.

The United States cut off all American funding for UNESCO following the U.N. vote on Monday, as required by 1990s laws barring American funding of any agency that grants membership to the Palestinians.

If those laws are applied to the 16 agencies that could grant membership to the Palestinians, they all could lose their U.S. funding.

Ibrahim Khraishi, the top Palestinian envoy at the U.N. in Geneva, said on Tuesday that Palestinian diplomats are preparing papers to join 16 other agencies.

“It’s now precedent that we are a full member in one of the biggest and one of the most important U.N. agencies, UNESCO,” he told The Associated Press. “So it will open the door for us now to go further in our efforts to join other U.N. agencies.”

U.S. officials warned of a “cascade” effect at U.N. agencies that might follow UNESCO’s lead, according to the Washington Post.

The agencies that the Palestinians will seek to join include the International Labor Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

The Palestinians also likely would seek membership in the World Health Organization (WHO), another Geneva-based U.N. agency. U.S. funding of that agency is “vital,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said.

“Of course we need it,” Chaib said. “The U.S. funding is quite important, I guess, for all the U.N. organizations. It’s a vital funding need for WHO.”

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