Palestinians seek UNESCO vote despite U.S. opposition

Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:13am EDT
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By Tom Perry

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - The Palestinians will seek a vote on their bid for full membership of UNESCO next week, Foreign Minister Riyal al-Malki said Wednesday, despite what he called U.S. threats to pull funding from the U.N. cultural agency.

The initiative is part of a Palestinian campaign, opposed by the United States, for recognition as a state in the U.N. system -- a move the Palestinians hope will strengthen their standing vis--vis Israel.

UNESCO is the first U.N. agency the Palestinians have sought to join as a full member since applying for full membership of the United Nations on September 23.

The bid for a full U.N. seat, which can be granted only by the Security Council, is destined to fail because of opposition by Washington, which has a veto in the forum.

But UNESCO is one agency the Palestinians can join as a full member regardless of their wider U.N. status.

Malki said a Palestinian representative would address UNESCO's General Conference Sunday and the Palestinians were aiming for a vote the same day.

"We are trying with all effort, through our ambassador in UNESCO, to have a vote on our request for membership of UNESCO at the time that we give the speech," he said in an interview with Voice of Palestine radio broadcast Wednesday.

"We hope that we will succeed in this effort despite our recognition of great pressure which the United States of America is leading inside UNESCO," Malki said.   Continued...

<p>A Palestinian flag flutters during a rally celebrating the release of prisoners from Israeli jails, in Gaza City October 18, 2011. REUTERS/Ahmed Zakot</p>