U.S. cuts funding for UNESCO after Palestinian vote approval

‘Palestinians are changing the rules of the game’


U.S. cuts UNESCO funding after Palestinian membership vote



“Palestine’s UNESCO membership further isolates Israel and USA.”


SYNOPSIS – Stuart Littlewood hails the decision by the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to admit Palestine
as a full member, and points out that membership brings important benefits,
including protection of Palestinian heritage from Israel’s malicious

“The Zionist lobby’s First Lady in US Congress.”


SYNOPSIS – Alan Hart profiles Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Israel’s First Lady in the
US Congress and the woman behind legislation requiring the US administration to
cut off funds to any UN agency recognizing the Palestinians, and one of her
major backers, Irving Moskowitz, a Florida businessman who is a major funder of
illegal Israeli settlements Palestinian territories.


Following received from General (Ret) James David who is mentioned on the cover of the third edition of former Republic Congressman Paul Findley’s ‘They Dare to Speak Out’ book about the power/influence of the pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC) on the US media and political system:

U.S. cuts funding for UNESCO after Palestinian vote approval

Monday, October 31, 2011 12:56 PM
From: James David
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called UNESCO’s acceptance of a Palestinian state “anti-Israel and anti-peace.”
I wonder what she calls demolishing innocent Palestinian homes, or stealing their land, or uprooting their olive orchards, or raiding their towns and villages, or assassinating their political leaders, or expanding Jewish settlements in Arab East Jerusalem, or blockading all of Gaza, or building apartheid walls, or restricting their travel, or unnecessary border harassment, or burning their mosques, or bombing their hospitals, bridges, energy plants, schools, etc. ?  Or even worse, the killing of men, women, and especially children?  Why is this never mentioned by our U.S. Congress or from the White House?  Instead, it is wrong for a people to want their independence and to be considered a State just as any other people would like to be recognized?  Why has the United States Congress let itself get so corrupted by the zionist movement just to protect their political careers? 
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen represents a highly populated Jewish district and receives some of the highest amounts of AIPAC lobby money.  And she is Chairman of our House Foreign Affairs Committeee?  This should tell you something about our so called “balanced” Middle East Policy.  I spent 40 years, active and reserves, in the U.S. Army but have never been more ashamed of my government and the corrupt politicians who run it as I have now.
Published 18:31 31.10.11 Latest update 18:31 31.10.11

U.S. cuts funding for UNESCO after Palestinian vote

White House says approval of Palestine as member of the UN cultural body undermines goal of a comprehensive Mideast peace plan; Germany also says move hinders peace.

By Natasha Mozgovaya, The Associated Press and DPA Tags: Palestinians Middle East peace


The Obama administration has decided to cut off funding for UNESCO because it approved a Palestinian bid for full membership.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says Monday’s vote triggers a long-standing congressional restriction on funding to UN bodies that recognize Palestine as a state before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached.

Barack Obama - AP - 1/2/2011 Barack Obama speaking about the situation in Egypt at the White House, Feb. 1, 2011.
Photo by: AP

What Motived the 911 Hijackers? See testimony most didn’t!: http://tinyurl.com/911motivation

 911 Motive & Media Betrayal: http://tinyurl.com/911motivemediabetrayal

One Response to “U.S. cuts funding for UNESCO after Palestinian vote approval”

  • Patriot says:

    US cuts UNESCO funds for admitting Palestine, forfeits “Honest Broker” role. World Heritage status for Church of the Nativity

    (1) US cuts UNESCO funds for admitting Palestine
    (2) UNESCO votes 107 to 14 to accept Palestine; World Heritage status for Church of the Nativity
    (3) JERUSALEM POST EDITORIAL on UNESCO vote: “a vote for bigotry, hatred and conflict”
    (4) Murdock’s The Australian EDITORIAL supports Australia’s vote against Palestine
    (5) J-Wire applauds that Australia voted against
    (6) How UNESCO voted: which countries voted Yes, No, or Abstain
    (7) Israel expedites settlement construction after UNESCO accepts Palestinians

    (1) US cuts UNESCO funds over admission of Palestine

    Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2011 19:40:38 -0400 (EDT) From: IHR News


    31 October 2011 Last updated at 18:59 GMT

    The United States is cancelling funding for the UN cultural body UNESCO after it voted to grant full membership to the Palestinians.

    The motion was passed by a substantial majority, despite strong opposition from the United States and Israel.

    A US state department spokeswoman said a payment of some $60m (£37m) due next month would not be made.

    Membership dues paid by the US account for about a fifth of the organisation’s annual budget.

    This is the first UN agency the Palestinians have sought to join since submitting their bid for recognition to the Security Council in September.

    The UN Security Council will vote next month on whether to grant the Palestinians full UN membership.

    Widespread applause greeted the result of Monday’s vote in the chamber – of 173 countries taking part, 107 were in favour, 14 voted against and 52 abstained.

    This is a historic day, said Palestinian deputy Minister of Antiquities Hamdan Taha, beaming from ear to ear in Ramallah.

    UNESCO membership may seem a strange and short step to Palestinian statehood. But leaders here see it as part of a broader push to get international recognition and pressure Israel. They see it as a warm-up for a more important vote next month when the UN Security Council will decide whether to admit Palestine as a full member state.

    The US has veto power at the security council and has threatened to use it. It had no such power at UNESCO so instead lobbied hard to try and force the Palestinians to back down. It will likely cut all US funding for UNESCO – $70m a year, or 22% of its annual budget.

    But UNESCO members seemed to put politics before money, clearly voting in favour of the Palestinian bid. This was a failure of US power, one Palestinian official told me.

    The victory will give a boost to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He lost ground to his rival Hamas when the Islamist movement secured the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit two weeks ago.

    Arab states were instrumental in getting the vote passed despite intense opposition from the US.

    In an emotional session, China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa voted in favour of Palestinian membership, while the US, Canada and Germany voted against and the UK abstained.

    Membership of UNESCO – perhaps best known for its World Heritage Sites – is seen by Palestinian leaders as part of a broader push to get international recognition and put pressure on Israel.

    “This vote will erase a tiny part of the injustice done to the Palestinian people,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told the meeting of the UN educational, scientific and cultural organisation in Paris, after the result was announced.

    One of the first moves Palestinians are set to make is to apply for world heritage status for sites on occupied Palestinian land such as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Associated Press news agency reports.
    ‘In a bind’

    A US law passed in the 1990s bars giving funding to any UN body that admits the Palestinians as full members before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached.

    “We were to have made a $60m payment to UNESCO in November and we will not be making that payment,” state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told journalists in Washington.

    Ms Nuland called the UNESCO move “regrettable” and “premature”, but said that while continued US funding was impossible, the administration wanted to remain an active member of UNESCO.

    She also expressed concern over the loss of US influence and the possibility that the same scenario might unfold with other UN agencies. The administration would now consult with Congress to see how to protect US interests, she said.

    The BBC’s Paul Adams in Washington says the US is in a bind – it regards UNESCO as a valuable UN agency, but it is also bound by the strict laws passed in the 1990s by an overwhelmingly pro-Israel Congress.

    For its part, Israel called the vote a “unilateral Palestinian manoeuvre which will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement”.

    “The Palestinian move at UNESCO, as with similar such steps with other UN bodies, is tantamount to a rejection of the international community’s efforts to advance the peace process,” a foreign ministry statement said.

    Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled since last year over the issue of Israeli settlement building.

    The Israeli statement also said Israel would be considering further steps regarding its co-operation with UNESCO.

    ‘Symbolic breakthrough’

    Correspondents say Monday’s vote is a symbolic breakthrough but that on its own it will not create a Palestinian state.

    UNESCO general conference president Katalin Bogyay announced the result

    A vote is expected in November at the UN Security Council on granting full membership of the UN to the Palestinians. The US has threatened to use its veto.

    No member has a right of veto in UNESCO, where each representative has one vote irrespective of a country’s size or budget contribution.

    UNESCO – like other UN agencies – is a part of the world body but has separate membership procedures and can make its own decisions about which countries belong. Full UN membership is not required for membership in many UN agencies, AP reports.

    The US boycotted UNESCO for almost two decades from 1984 for what the state department said was a “growing disparity between US foreign policy and UNESCO goals”.

    A UNESCO official told the BBC that if any member fails to make payments before the next general conference in two years’ time they will lose voting rights, but they will still be members unless they withdraw. If they want to vote at the next general conference they have to pay a minimum amount to regain that privilege.

    The official added that no decisions had been made on the budget, which has to be discussed at conference.

    (2) UNESCO votes 107 to 14 to accept Palestine; World Heritage status for Church of the Nativity


    US pulls UNESCO funding after Palestine is granted full membership

    Controversial move endorsed in UN cultural agency vote despite US threat of withholding £50m in funds

    Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem

    guardian.co.uk, Monday 31 October 2011 13.11 GMT

    The United States has cut off funds to UNESCO as a punitive action after the Palestinian Authority was accepted into the UN agency as a full member in defiance of American, Israeli and European pressure.

    The overwhelming backing for the Palestinians’ bid to join the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation was a huge boost for their campaign for international recognition of an independent state, and a blow to Israel and the US, who had opposed the move.

    Members voted by 107 votes to 14 to accept Palestine as a full member state to loud cheers from delegates in Paris. Fifty-two countries, including the UK, abstained.

    Within hours, the US announced it would withhold its huge contribution to UNESCO’s budget as a result of the vote. State department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the US had no choice due to a 21-year-old law prohibiting the payment of funds to any UN body accepting the Palestinians as full members.

    A $60m (£38m) transfer that was due later this month would be halted in a move that will have serious consequences for UNESCO activities. The US contributes 22% of the agency’s annual budget.

    UNESCO’s decision was “regrettable, premature and undermines our shared goal to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace [between Israelis and Palestinians]”, said Nuland.

    Israel also hinted at punitive measures. A statement from the foreign ministry said it would “consider its further steps and ongoing co-operation” with UNESCO following the decision. The move was a “unilateral Palestinian manoeuvre which will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement”, it added.

    Nimrod Barkan, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, described the vote as a “tragedy”. “UNESCO deals in science, not science fiction. They forced on UNESCO a political subject out of its competence,” he said.

    Palestinian officials, who described the vote as historic, were jubilant. “This vote will erase a tiny part of the injustice done to the Palestinian people,” foreign minister Riyad al-Malk told the UNESCO gathering in Paris.

    The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said the vote “represents support for freedom and justice”.

    In a statement to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, he said: “This vote is for the sake of peace and represents international consensus on support for the legitimate Palestinian national rights of our people, the foremost of which is the establishment of its independent state.”

    Some ridiculed the US response. “You would think we were asking to be accepted by al-Qaida,” senior official Nabil Shaath said before the vote.

    The swift action of the US in withdrawing funding is likely to increase cynicism among Palestinians about the credibility of the US as a mediator between them and the Israelis.

    Membership of UNESCO is largely symbolic, although it will allow the Palestinian Authority to seek world heritage status for historical sites. Israel would be expected to vigorously object to applications for sites in areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem currently under its control. The Palestinian Authority is expected to seek UNESCO world heritage status for the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus.

    A nomination attempt was rejected earlier this year because the Palestinians were not a full UNESCO member. The nomination of other sites is expected to follow.

    The vote was the first taken in a UN body since the Palestinians embarked on their campaign for recognition of an independent state in the international arena. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, submitted a formal application for full membership of the UN in September in defiance of US opposition.

    The process has become mired in UN bureaucracy after the security council set up a subcommittee to examine the application. No date has been set for a decision, which is bound to go against the Palestinians as the US has pledged to veto the move.

    The Palestinians may then take their case to the UN general assembly, which is barred from granting full membership without security council approval.

    Monday’s vote at the UNESCO general conference is an indication of the extent of support for the Palestinian case in the international community.

    France was among those voting in the Palestinians’ favour, a move which could indicate its as yet unstated stance in the forthcoming security council vote on full membership of the UN.

    The UK has not declared its voting intentions but is expected to line up with the US.

    Others countries that voted in favour included China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa. The US, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands voted against. US and European diplomats made unsuccessful efforts to seek a postponement of the UNESCO vote in the runup to the debate at the general conference in Paris.

    Despite US and EU insistence that negotiations are the only way to secure a lasting settlement and an independent Palestinian state, efforts led by the Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair to restart talks between the two parties have made little progress.

    Palestinian negotiators have largely despaired of securing a state through talks with Israel while the latter continues to build and expand settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

    They are also deeply disappointed in the lack of pressure exerted on Israel by the US. Many feel that taking the Palestinian cause into the international arena has a greater potential for progress.

    (3) JERUSALEM POST EDITORIAL on UNESCO vote: “a vote for bigotry, hatred and conflict”



    11/01/2011 23:34

    A huge cheer of joy erupted Monday in the General Assembly room of the Paris-based UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after “Palestine” was voted in as the organization’s 195th member.

    However, the event was, in reality, not a cause for celebration but another lamentable example of the moral bankruptcy of the UN and its organizations.

    While the US, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Israel voted against it, such bastions of human rights and freedom as China, Russia and Brazil voted in favor.

    Disappointingly, Austria and France – two states which should have known better – voted in favor, while Britain and Germany could do no more than abstain.

    In its rush to aid the Palestinians in their unilateral bid for internationally recognized statehood status, UNESCO completely disregarded its own declared educational and cultural standards based on equality and mutual respect.

    Instead, UNESCO effectively endorsed the warped, hate-mongering Palestinian national “narrative” as reflected in the Palestinian Authority’s official school textbooks, cultural policies and popular media.

    Impact-SE, a research organization that monitors and analyzes schoolbooks and curricula across the Middle East, with an eye toward determining their compliance with international standards on peace and tolerance – like those set by UNESCO – found shameful examples of anti-Semitism being taught in the Palestinian educational system.

    Indeed, textbooks used in PA schools conveyed rabidly anti-Semitic messages (Jews are described as violators of treaties, deceivers, murderers of children, disembowelers of women and impersonators of snakes) erased Jewish peoples’ ties to the land of Israel (Rachel’s Tomb is presented as the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque, and the Kotel is described simply as Al-Buraq Wall) and supported jihad while, completing ignoring the option of a negotiated peace settlement with Israel.

    The study quotes the following paragraph from a eighth-grade book: “Today the Muslim countries need urgently jihad and jihad fighters in order to liberate the robbed lands and to get rid of the robbing Jews from the robbed lands in Palestine and in the Levant.”

    Nowhere in official PA textbooks is the Holocaust mentioned, though there is an entire chapter on World War Two. One ambiguous passage states: “The Jewish question is first and foremost a European problem.”

    Before the UNESCO decision, there might have been a chance, through international pressure and dialogue, to influence the PA to gradually revamp textbooks so that they more closely reflected reality. Perhaps a new generation of Palestinian children could have been raised not on anti-Semitism, stereotypes and lies, but on respect for those who are different, the value of peaceful negotiation and recognition of the Jewish people’s ties to the land of Israel.

    But by accepting “Palestine” as a member, UNESCO has effectively given its stamp of approval to the sort of vicious indoctrination undergone by Palestinian schoolchildren at a young, impressionable age.

    Can we honesty expect any future Palestinian leader to criticize the abhorrent messages that appear in PA textbooks if UNESCO failed to? Any leader who dared to introduce reforms would be fighting an uphill battle, not only against Palestinian prejudices and its culture of violence and self-victimization, but also against a respected UN institution’s decision.

    What’s more, according to UNESCO’s own rules, accepting “Palestine” as a full-fledged member means that UNESCO essentially waives its right to interfere in – or even criticize – Palestinian education policies. If anything, Palestinian schoolbooks will inculcate children with even more uncompromisingly anti-Semitic, anti-Israel messages.

    And the messages presented in school will continue to be reinforced in Palestinian media and in mosques.

    Consequently, the chances for peace between Israelis and Palestinians will get even slimmer.

    Seen in this light, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s statement that the UNESCO decision “is a vote for peace” is utterly incomprehensible.

    Rather, it is a vote for bigotry, hatred and conflict.

    (4) Murdock’s The Australian EDITORIAL supports Australia’s vote against Palestine



    Australia strong on UNESCO

    The Australian November 02, 2011 12:00AM

    UNESCO’S overwhelming vote to grant membership to Palestine is as short-sighted as it is misguided, and the Gillard government deserves high praise for placing Australia firmly among the 14 nations that withstood the tide and opposed the move.

    As with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s application for UN membership, joining UNESCO, although it is being claimed as a symbolic victory for the Palestinians, amounts to little more than grandstanding. It will do nothing to advance the cause of genuine statehood. That will come only from negotiations with Israel, not from occupying members’ seats at UNESCO or, for that matter, the UN. The sooner Mr Abbas and his colleagues stop deluding themselves and accept this reality, the sooner will progress be made towards a framework for peace.

    On the face of it, the numbers look impressive. In the vote, 107 countries, including France, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, India, Russia, China, South Africa, Russia and Indonesia, supported Palestinian membership. Only 14 voted against, Australia, the US, Israel, Canada, Germany and Sweden among them. But the Palestinians and their supporters would be unwise to draw much satisfaction from the outcome, for what is clear is that UNESCO and the cause of peace are going to pay a heavy price. UNESCO, which in recent years has done some worthwhile work, especially on adult education and the preservation of World Heritage sites, will immediately lose 25 per cent of its annual budget of $643 million, 22 per cent of which is contributed by the US and 3 per cent by Israel. In 1984, after president Ronald Reagan suspended Washington’s membership of UNESCO for being corrupt, anti-Jewish and anti-Western, and before president George W. Bush resumed US membership in 2003, the US congress enacted legislation that means the Obama administration is obliged to end funding for any organisation that admits Palestinians. UNESCO will be in serious financial strife. Severe cutbacks in operations and staffing are inevitable. As well, Israel has condemned the UNESCO vote as a move that will further impede hopes for resumed peace talks, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatening to sever all contact with the Palestinian Authority. Thus, peace prospects have been dealt yet another blow. And all for what? The Palestinians will doubtless use their new membership to get UNESCO to grant World Heritage status to important historical sites as part of Palestine, especially those in areas controlled by Israel. That will only exacerbate the situation. There is no aspect of the UNESCO vote that makes sense beyond grandstanding and the desire to make a symbolic gesture. It neither changes the situation on the ground in the Middle East, nor does it advance the cause of getting peace talks restarted. Instead, it prejudices UNESCO’s best interests and riles the US and Israel, the two countries with which, like it or not, the Palestinians will have to negotiate if they are ever to achieve statehood.

    Our government acted wisely by voting with the naysayers. At a time when we are seeking support across the globe for a term on the UN Security Council, it would have been tempting to abstain. That we made a principled stand, holding out against the clamour and voting no, is a decision that does the government and us great credit.

    (5) J-Wire applauds that Australia voted against


    UNESCO votes to admit Palestine – Australia votes against

    November 1, 2011 by J-Wire Staff

    The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation [UNESCO] has voted 107-14 in favour of granting membership to Palestine. Australia joined Israel, the United States, Canada and Germany in voting against the motion.

    France joined China and India in supporting the Palestinian membership. 52 countries abstained including Britain and Japan.

    The U.S. is likely to withdraw its considerable financial support to UNESCO following the vote. $60 million was due to be paid to USECO this month.

    US ambassador to UNESCO David T Killion says the vote is premature as the September application to by Palestine to join the United Nations remains under study.

    The Quarter continues to strive to get Israel and Palestine to the peace table to attempt to create the two state solution through negotiation.

    Federal Labor MP Michael Danby said: ”Australia opposed the ploy of the unilateral Palestinian Bid at the UN by voting against their attempt to gain precedent at UNESCO.

    Australia joined 14 other countries including Germany, the United States of America and Canada in supporting direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians by voting against the UNESCO decision to admit the Palestinians as a member of the Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

    Prime Minister Gillard has again shown that Australia is a strong friend of Israel”.

    Mr Danby added: “UNESCO has already shown its discriminatory behaviour by classifying one of the tombs of the Matriarchs- the tomb of Rachel, as a Palestinian Heritage site.”

    Peter Wertheim, executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry told J-Wire: “The ECAJ commends the Australian government for deciding, together with 14 other countries including Germany, the USA and Canada, to cast Australia’s vote at the UN against the Palestinian application to become a member of the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

    The Palestinians’ own top legal advisers have signed their names to a statement that says that the Palestinians do not as yet satisfy the legal criteria for statehood, because they do not have one effective government that controls the West Bank and Gaza Strip. That reality cannot be changed by any vote in UNESCO or by wishful thinking.”

    (6) How UNESCO voted: which countries voted Yes, No, or Abstain


    How UNESCO countries voted on Palestinian membership

    Palestinian Authority granted full membership of UN cultural agency after 107 vote in favour, 14 against and 52 abstain

    guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 1 November 2011 17.05 GMT

    Breakdown of how UNESCO countries voted on Palestinian membership

    194 member states

    173 votes cast

    81 required majority

    52 abstentions

    14 “no” votes

    107 “yes” votes


    Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sweden, US, Vanuatu.


    Albania, Andorra, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cook Islands, Ivory Coast, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Georgia, Haiti, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Liberia, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Switzerland, Thailand, Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, UK, Zambia.


    Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

    Absent (includes states that lost right to vote because membership fees were not paid):

    Antigua and Barbuda, Central African Republic, Comoros, Dominica, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Madagascar, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Niue, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, East Timor, Turkmenistan.

    (7) Israel expedites settlement construction after UNESCO accepts Palestinians


    Israel rushes settlement growth after UNESCO accepts Palestinians

    Punitive measure agreed by Israeli cabinet, as West Bank and Gaza internet services come under attack

    Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem

    guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 1 November 2011 20.14 GMT

    Israel is to expedite the construction of about 2,000 homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in response to the Palestinians’ successful bid to join UNESCO.

    Israel also imposed a temporary halt on the transfer of tax revenues which it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) pending a final decision on whether to impose a long-term freeze. Israel collects about £630m a year in VAT and customs revenues which it passes on to the PA.

    A meeting of eight senior cabinet ministers agreed the punitive measures – which include a ban on UNESCO missions to Israel – on Tuesday following the symbolically significant vote at the United Nations’ cultural and educational agency.

    The ministers are to reconvene to discuss further actions which may include revoking the special status of Palestinian ministers and senior officials which allows them to pass through Israeli military checkpoints.

    In response, the PA said the Israeli measures would “speed up the destruction of the peace process”. Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, described the decision to temporarily halt transfers of funds as “inhumane”.

    As a result of the move, the PA is likely to experience severe difficulties in paying the salaries of tens of thousands of employees ahead of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday which begins on Sunday.

    The new homes will be built in East Jerusalem and the West Bank settlements of Efrat and Ma’ale Adumim. “All of the mentioned areas are ones that would remain in Israeli control under any future peace agreement,” prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office said. Settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are illegal under international law.

    The move will challenge the United States, which responded to the UNESCO vote by imposing financial sanctions against the agency.

    However, the US is party to a Middle East Quartet statement issued less than six weeks ago, calling on Israel and the Palestinians to refrain from “provocative” actions. That was widely viewed as meaning settlement expansion.

    “We are not closing the door to peace but Israel has repeatedly had the door slammed in its face by the PA,” said an Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity. He described the government’s response as “restrained”.

    About 1,650 of the new homes would be in East Jerusalem and the remainder in the two West Bank settlements, he said.

    After gaining the backing of 107 countries, with four voting against and 52 abstaining, the Palestinian leadership is considering membership applications to other global bodies.

    The World Health Organisation and World Bank are among 16 agencies that could be presented with application bids in the coming weeks.

    However, a Palestinian Authority official said it would await the outcome of a meeting of the United Nations security council on 11 November which will consider a report on the Palestinians’ request for full membership of the UN.

    “If you ask are we studying options, the answer is yes we are, but no decision has been taken,” said the official.

    Meanwhile, internet services in the West Bank and Gaza came under attack by unknown hackers on Tuesday, according to officials. “There has been a sustained attack since the morning from many sources in many countries,” said PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib. “It is deliberate and continuous.”

    He said computer experts were trying to identify the sources of the attack and the PA would seek assistance from those countries’ governments. The attack had interrupted services, causing internet connection to range from “very very slow to completely stopped”.

    Khatib said the PA had no idea who was behind the cyber-assault and the reason for it.

    Telecoms minister Mashour Abu Daqqa told Reuters: “All Palestinian IP addresses have been exposed to a focused, organised attack from abroad. I think this is organised by a state.”

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