Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) issued the following statement condemning today's vote at the United Nations Economic, Social, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) making Palestine a member. This vote occurred without negotiating a resolution to the Middle East dispute with Israel. Under U.S. law, adding Palestine to UNESCO or any other UN organization would trigger the revocation of U.S. funding for that organization.
"The Palestinian effort to gain recognition at the United Nations and UNESCO is severely misguided. The Israeli-Palestinian dispute can only be resolved in bilateral negotiations. Such counter-productive Palestinian efforts at the UN only serves to undermine the peace process.
"United States law is clear: any UN agency which allows a group or organization which is not a country -- in this case the PLO -- to join will lose all US funding. This will end up hurting the interests of the US and other countries which have benefited from UNESCO activities, but we simply are unwilling to sacrifice our alliance with Israel on the mantle of a UN organization which acts to undermine the peace process. We're deeply disappointed that countries which are members of UNESCO did not heed this message and vote against this counter-productive scheme."
A 1994 law (P.L. 103-236, Title IV) bars U.S. contributions "to any affiliated organization of the United Nations which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood."