The United States announced Monday that it is cutting off its funding for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after the agency voted to admit Palestine as a full member.
The U.S. State Department said Monday that the Obama administration will not make its planned $60 million payment to UNESCO due in November, the Washington Post reports. The United States provided the organization about $80 million a year, or 22 percent of its budget.
The United States is not legally allowed to provide funds to any UN agency that recognizes a Palestinian state.
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“Today’s reckless action by UNESCO is anti-Israel and anti-peace,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, reportedly said in a statement. “It rewards the Palestinian leadership’s dangerous scheme to bypass negotiations with Israel and seek recognition of a self-declared ‘Palestinian state,’ and takes us further from peace in the Middle East.”
The U.S. decision comes after the 173 UNESCO countries voted at a Paris meeting Monday to admit Palestine, with 107 in favor and 14 opposed. There were 52 abstentions.
The cultural body membership bid represents an effort by the Palestinians to pursue various avenues toward being recognized as a nation.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sought full statehood recognition of Palestine at the UN Security Council in New York a month ago. The Security Council will vote in November, but the United States has already announced that it will veto the move.