Palestinians: UNESCO vote 'opens door' to other UN agencies

By Jennifer Lipman, November 1, 2011

The Palestinians hope their success in gaining UNESCO membership will be followed by acceptance by 16 other UN agencies.

Yesterday's vote saw a majority of delegates at the UN cultural agency vote yes to full Palestinian membership. The decision was criticised by the US and Israel as unilateral and damaging to peace negotiations and the US announced it would withhold funding for the agency as a result.

The Palestinian envoy to the UN, Ibrahim Khraishi, said they were now looking to capitalise on the vote and studying when they would seek "full membership" of other agencies, such as the UN World Intellectual Property Organization

"It's our target for (us to join) the international organisations and the UN agencies," said Mr Khraishi. "We are working on it, one by one."

"We are a full member in one of the biggest and one of the most important UN agencies, UNESCO…it will open the door for us now to go further in our efforts to join other UN agencies."

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said that, as with the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN, "this decision sends a message that the Palestinians do not need to negotiate with Israel to build a better future and a lasting peace.

"Instead they can take unilateral actions which will have no effect on the ground and will only serve to increase frustrations and the potential for violence."

The Palestinians will officially become full UNESCO members when they sign the agency's founding charter.

Last updated: 2:22pm, November 1 2011