Palestinians were accepted on Monday as a full member of UNESCO--even though the agency risks losing about $80 million in funding from the United States for the decision.
With 107 votes in favor, the Palestinians' bid reached the two-thirds majority needed for acceptance to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. The decision was met with loud applause, CNN reported. The U.S. and Israel were among the 14 members voting no; 52 abstained.
U.S. lawmakers have threatened to cut off funding for UNESCO, which receives 22 percent of its regular budget funding from Washington. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, said this month that she will "advocate for all funding to be cut off."
Under U.S. law, Granger said, the United States is prohibited from giving funds to the United Nations or any U.N. agency that grants the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states. "I will consider additional actions as needed," she said in a statement. "There are consequences for short-cutting the process, not only for the Palestinians but for our long-standing relationship with the United Nations."
Late last month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also defied the wishes of the U.S. and Israel by submitting an official bid to the United Nations for recognition as an independent state, asking the international body to recognize the state of Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The U.S. has already promised to veto the measure if it comes to a vote in the Security Council.