UNESCO Votes in Favor of Readmitting US, Israel Still Out
The U.S. proposal to rejoin the Paris-based organization was approved by the UNESCO governing board on Friday by a 132–10 vote.
According to Biden administration officials, America’s membership won’t be finalized until Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken or a designee formally accepts the invitation.
Blinken said that the vote would “restore U.S. leadership on a number of important and valuable issues for the American people.”
The official said in a statement, “I am glad and encouraged that the members accepted our proposal today. This will allow the U.S. to take the next formal steps towards becoming a full member again.”
Some more about the UNESCO votes, US, Israel, and others….
Representatives from Russia, Palestine, and North Korea caused hours of procedural delays on Thursday, delaying consideration of the American proposal.
The UNESCO interpreters were too worn out to continue that session, so it was called to a close.
Belarus, China, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Nicaragua, Syria, and North Korea were among those who voted against readmitting the United States in addition to Russia, North Korea, and the Palestinians.
Early in June, the Biden administration declared that it would submit an application to reenter the group, primarily out of concern that China was stepping in to fill the U.S. absence from the group. International standards for artificial intelligence and technology education are largely set by the 193-member UNESCO.
In 2017, the Trump administration declared that the United States would leave UNESCO due to anti-Israel bias. A year after that decision, it became effective.
After UNESCO decided to admit Palestine as a member state in 2011, funding from the United States and Israel was halted.
For the 2024 budget, the Biden administration has asked for $150 million allocated for UNESCO dues and past-due fees. The plan says that similar requests will be made every year until the $619 million debt is paid off in full.
That takes up a big chunk of UNESCO’s annual operating budget of $534 million. Before departing, the U.S. provided 22% of the total funding for the organization.
Israel has long charged that the UN is biased against it. Over Israel’s protests, the General Assembly recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state in 2012.
The West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip are territories claimed by the Palestinians for an independent state and were taken by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel says that the Palestinians’ efforts to get U.N. recognition are an attempt to get out of a deal they have been trying to make and to force Israel to give in.
In 1984, during the Reagan administration, the United States withdrew from UNESCO because it believed the organization to be poorly run, corrupt, and used to further Soviet interests.
During the administration of former President George W. Bush, it re-joined in 2003.