UNESCO Vote on Palestinian Membership 'Shortsighted, Premature and Irresponsible'

New York, NY, October 31, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sharply criticized today's vote by the General Members of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) granting "Palestine" full membership, calling the outcome "a shortsighted, premature and irresponsible decision to support a reckless Palestinian tactic."

Of the 193 voting countries, 107 voted in favor, 52 abstained, 21 did not vote and 14 voted against, including the U.S., Canada and Germany. U.S. legislation dating from 1990 will now result in an automatic cutoff of U.S. funding for UNESCO, which the Palestinians knew would severely curtail UNESCO's ability to continue many of its most important projects.

"The vote by UNESCO granting "Palestine" membership is a shortsighted, premature and irresponsible decision to support a reckless Palestinian tactic," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The decision serves only to encourage the Palestinian's misguided unilateral measures to evade their obligations to negotiate directly with Israel and to achieve recognition of statehood at the UN. This step is likely to seriously complicate the recent efforts by the Quartet to restart direct negotiations.

"It is deeply troubling that the Palestinians undermined UNESCO by insisting on this entirely premature action which they knew would automatically activate the provisions of U.S. law requiring a cutoff of funding to UNESCO and impair that body's ability to maintain many of the important projects it has around the world. We are extremely disappointed by the willingness of European countries such as France, Austria and Greece to sacrifice UNESCO and jeopardize the Quartet's work by allowing the Palestinians to move forward with this vote."

ADL also expressed appreciation for strenuous diplomatic efforts by the United States, both within UNESCO and in capitals around the world, to rally opposition to the resolution and to those countries who voted against it. The League called on the international community to prevent further attempts by the Palestinians to use the U.N. as a vehicle for statehood, and encourage Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to return immediately to direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions.