October 31, 2011
Palestine has become a full member of the UN cultural and educational agency in a move that the United States and other opponents say could harm renewed Middle East peace efforts.
The US had threatened to withhold roughly $80m (£50m) in annual funding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) if it approved Palestinian membership. The United States provides about 22% of Unesco’s funding.
Huge cheers went up in Unesco after delegates approved the membership by 107 votes to 14 with 52 abstentions. Eighty-one votes were needed for approval in a hall with 173 Unesco member delegations present.
“Long live Palestine!” shouted one delegate, in French, at the unusually tense and dramatic meeting of Unesco’s general conference.