Times Colonist

Canada cuts off extra funding for UN agency

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OTTAWA — In the wake of a vote by UNESCO to allow Palestinia­ns a seat at the table, the federal government has said it will not give additional money to the UN body.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told reporters Tuesday the government would not offer further “voluntary” payments to the United Nations’ cultural arm to cover a shortfall.

The United States stopped funding UNESCO after Monday’s vote, which it said made the Middle East peace process more complicate­d. Washington, like Canada, is a staunch ally of Israel and provides 22 per cent of UNESCO’S funding. Canada provides almost $12 million annually to UNESCO — about 3.4 per cent of its total.

“Under no circumstan­ces will Canada cover the budgeting shortfall as a result of this decision and Canada has decided to freeze all further contributi­ons to UNESCO,” Baird told reporters.

Baird said Canada would continue its funding at current levels, but will not add new payments.

Angry over the UNESCO decision, Israel decided Tuesday to accelerate Jewish settlement building and withhold Palestinia­n Authority funds.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the accelerate­d constructi­on of about 2,000 housing units, said an official statement released after he convened his cabinet.

The Palestinia­n presidency said the decision to speed up settlement constructi­on on land where the Palestinia­ns aim to found a state amounts to a decision to “speed up the destructio­n of the peace process.”

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