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Congressman Flake: Congress Must Not Grant Legal Waiver to Reestablish Funding for UNESCO

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who represents Arizona's Sixth District, today expressed alarm at the State Department's decision to include $79 million in its 2013 budget for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) despite United States law stipulating it must be defunded following a vote to grant full membership to the Palestinian Authority (PA). UNESCO voted to grant full membership status to the PA in spite of existing U.S. law which prohibits U.S. contributions to the UN or any associated organization that awards the PA the same standing as full member states.

The State Department included the funding in the president's 2013 budget request with the hope that Congress will grant a legal waiver allowing UNESCO funding to be restored.

"Ignoring current law by granting the State Department's request for a waiver would send a message to our allies that the U.S. doesn't keep its word," said Flake. "Forcing the establishment of a Palestinian state through fiat is not an option, and neither is funding UNESCO through budgetary fiat."

In November, 2011, Congressman Flake sent a letter along with 15 other House Republicans to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging continued support for upholding and enforcing current law by halting United States contributions to the United Nations after the international body voted to grant the PA membership within UNESCO. A copy of that letter can be found here.

In addition to other legislation, for the past three Congresses, Congressman Flake has cosponsored the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act, the current version of which (H.R. 2829) would, among other things, withhold U.S. contributions to any U.N. entity that recognizes a Palestinian state, and would take steps to safeguard U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency are not used by any foreign terrorist organization. In 2006, he introduced the Geneva Distinctive Emblems Protect Act (H.R. 6338), which became law in 2007 and paved the way for the Magen David Adom, Israel's version of the Red Cross, to take up full membership in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Additionally, Congressman Flake voted for H. Res. 268 in July, 2011, affirming Congressional support for direct Israeli-Palestinian negations to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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