Pales­tini­ans to ap­ply to join 3 UN agen­cies

Now that US is not an hon­est bro­ker, there is no rea­son not to, says of­fi­cial

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By ADAM RASGON

The Pales­tini­ans in­tend to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tions to join three United Na­tions agen­cies as full mem­bers in the com­ing days, a Pales­tinian Author­ity of­fi­cial said on Thurs­day.

The three agen­cies in­clude bod­ies that PA Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas pre­vi­ously told the US ad­min­is­tra­tion they would not join, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial, who said he could not reveal the names of the or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“We de­cided to sub­mit pa­pers to join three UN or­ga­ni­za­tions to strengthen the stand­ing of the State of Pales­tine in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “Pres­i­dent Ab­bas has signed the ap­pli­ca­tions and we will be hand­ing them over to the relevant or­ga­ni­za­tions in the com­ing days.”

PLO Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Saeb Erekat also told of­fi­cial PA tele­vi­sion on Tues­day that the Pales­tini­ans de­cided to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tions to join UN agen­cies, but he did not say how many or which.

Both the Obama and Trump ad­min­is­tra­tions have asked Pales­tini­ans not to join UN agen­cies, be­cause Amer­i­can law man­dates that the US must cut off fund­ing to any UN or­ga­ni­za­tion that grants the Pales­tini­ans full mem­ber­ship.

“No funds au­tho­rized to be ap­pro­pri­ated by this Act or any other Act shall be avail­able for the United Na­tions or any spe­cial­ized agency thereof which ac­cords the Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion the same stand­ing as mem­ber states,” one US law passed in 1990 reads.

An­other law passed in 1994 says that the US gov­ern­ment must cease its fund­ing to any UN agency that grants full mem­ber­ship to any group that does not have “in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized at­tributes of state­hood.” The US does not rec­og­nize the “State of Pales­tine.”

The Pales­tini­ans cur­rently are full mem­bers in only one UN agency, UNESCO, the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion. When they joined in 2011, the US im­me­di­ately cut its an­nual con­tri­bu­tion to UNESCO, tens of mil­lions of dol­lars, com­pelling the UN body to sus­pend some pro­grams.

The Pales­tinian of­fi­cial strongly sug­gested that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies on the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict mo­ti­vated the Pales­tini­ans to ap­ply to the three UN agen­cies.

“Back when we dealt with the US as an hon­est bro­ker in the peace process, it asked us not to join these or­ga­ni­za­tions and we com­plied. How­ever, now that it has be­come clear that the US is not an hon­est bro­ker at all, we de­cided to ex­er­cise our right in join­ing them,” the of­fi­cial said.

A num­ber of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies have in­fu­ri­ated the Pales­tini­ans in­clud­ing its de­ci­sion to re­lo­cate the US Em­bassy in Is­rael from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, its with­hold­ing of US funds for UNRWA, a UN or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides aid to Pales­tinian refugees, and its threat to close the PLO’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice in Wash­ing­ton.

A spokesman for the US Consulate in Jerusalem was not able to re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment. The US has pre­vi­ously called Pales­tinian efforts to join in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions “uni­lat­eral” ac­tions.

Foreign Min­istry spokesman Em­manuel Nahshon de­clined to com­ment.

How­ever, Is­rael holds that Pales­tinian efforts to gain mem­ber­ship in in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions con­sti­tute one-sided mea­sures aimed at achiev­ing state­hood while by­pass­ing peace ne­go­ti­a­tions and un­der­min­ing the Jewish state’s stand­ing in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

Lara Fried­man, the pres­i­dent of the Foun­da­tion for Mid­dle East Peace, said in a phone call that Pales­tinian ac­ces­sion to UN agen­cies would have ma­jor con­se­quences for Amer­i­cans.

Fried­man said: “Amer­i­can farm­ers and ship­pers would be shocked when the UN Food and Agri­cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion pro­grams specif­i­cally de­signed to ben­e­fit them sud­denly end. Amer­i­cans would also have greater rea­son to fear for their well-be­ing when the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, which deals with in­ter­na­tional epi­demics and pan­demics, loses mil­lions in fund­ing. And Amer­i­cans would also have greater rea­son to worry about the pro­lif­er­a­tion of nu­clear weapons when the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency is de­prived of a ma­jor por­tion of its bud­get.”

Ac­cord­ing to Fried­man, Congress could leg­is­late a waiver for the US to con­tinue fund­ing UN or­ga­ni­za­tions that grant the Pales­tini­ans full mem­ber­ship. How­ever, she said that she does not be­lieve that the Congress or Trump would make an ef­fort to push for the pas­sage of such a waiver.

(Bren­den McDer­mid/Reuters)

PLO AM­BAS­SADOR Riyad Manour exits as Is­raeli Am­bas­sador Danny Danon ad­dresses the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in De­cem­ber.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel

© PressReader. All rights reserved.