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Ed Webb

US and Israel lose UNESCO voting rights - Americas - Al Jazeera English - 0 views

  • UNESCO has suspended the voting rights of the United States, two years after it stopped paying dues to the UN's cultural arm in protest over its granting full membership to the Palestinians, according to a UNESCO source.

    The US has not paid its dues to UNESCO due to the decision by world governments to make Palestine a UNESCO member in 2011. Israel suspended its dues at the same time and also lost voting rights on Friday.

  • The US decision of not paying UNESCO was blamed on US laws that prohibit funding to any United Nations agency that implies recognition of Palestinian demands for their own state.
  • The withdrawal of US funding, which to date amounts to about $240m or some 22 percent of UNESCO's budget, has plunged the organisation into a financial crisis, forcing it to cut programmes and slash spending.
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  • Some fear that a weaker US presence will lead to growing anti-Israeli sentiment within UNESCO, where Arab-led criticism of Israel for territorial reasons has long been an issue.

    "We won't be able to have the same clout," said Phyllis Magrab, the Washington-based US National Commissioner for UNESCO. "In effect, we (now won't) have a full tool box. We're missing our hammer."

    Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, told The Associated Press that his country supported the US decision, "objecting to the politicisation of UNESCO, or any international organisation, with the accession of a non-existing country like Palestine."

    Elias Sanbar, Palestinian Ambassador to UNESCO told Al Jazeera: "We need them (the United States) to be active. By taking this decision, first of all, they have created big problems for UNESCO, but they have also lost part of their role and we need their role."

    UNESCO designates World Heritage sites, promotes global education and supports press freedom among other tasks.

  • The Palestinians have so far failed in their bid to become a full member of the UN, but their UNESCO membership is seen as a potential first step towards UN recognition of statehood.
Ed Webb

Israel "to build security barrier between West Bank and Jordan" - Telegraph - 0 views

  • Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to build a security barrier between the West Bank and Jordan in a move aimed at asserting Israel's control over the borders of a future Palestinian state.

    The fence would extend from the Dead Sea to near the southern Israeli city of Eilat and would reinforce Israel's determination to maintain a presence in the strategic Jordan Valley, despite fierce Palestinian opposition.

    The Israeli newspaper, Maariv, reported that Mr Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, had ordered work to begin as soon as another fence currently being built on the country's southern border with Egypt's Sinai Peninsula is completed.

    An Israeli official confirmed to The Telegraph that the barrier was under consideration but said that a final decision had yet to be taken.

    Addressing Sunday's cabinet meeting, Mr Netanyahu said a continued military presence in the Jordan Valley was "first and foremost" among Israel's security needs "in case the peace frays".

  • "These security arrangements are important to us. We will insist upon them," he said. "First and foremost, the security border of the State of Israel will remain along the Jordan River."

  • In another development certain to trigger Palestinian outrage, Israel issued tenders for 1,859 settlers' homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank on Sunday, according to Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement group.
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  • The move came after Israel last week approved 5,000 new settlers homes as well as a national park in East Jerusalem in what was depicted as an effort to stave off Right-wing criticism of the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, freed last Tuesday as part of an agreement concluded last July to re-start long-stalled negotiations.

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