Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Palestine's UNESCO admission

In an act of calculated spite, the US has withdrawn $60 million in contributory payments to UNESCO following the vote to admit Palestine as a full member to the body.

Israel has wielded its own punishment by announcing the building of 2000 more settler homes in East Jerusalem and freezing Palestinian tax funds.

107 countries voted for Palestinian admission, 52 abstained (including the UK) and 14 opposed the motion (including the US, Israel, Australia, Canada, Sweden and Germany).

Washington later  mounted a paltry defence of its action, claiming that the vote was a "rejection of the international community", while repeating the default-line excuse that any UN recognition of Palestine creates a hostile atmosphere for the 'peace process'.

In resisting US/Israeli pressure, the mass of countries supporting Palestine's candidacy seem to have been motivated by three more elementary truths: the US is, as far as it's concerned, the 'international community'; the US backs Israel unconditionally; there is no peace process.

The extent of UN member state support for Palestine and resistance to US intimidation confirms the now-gathering diplomatic crisis for Israel.

Whatever resilient comfort Netanyahu may take from Obama's loyalty - always remembering, of course, what Israel gives America in return - he knows that the vote is yet another significant blow to Israel's standing.

Evidence of that concern can be gleaned in a recent Wikileaks cable detailing Israel's rearguard efforts to offset its increasing international isolation by pitching - unsuccessfully - for a top placement within UNESCO.

Meanwhile, news of the Palestinian admission to UNESCO barely rated a mention on the main BBC news.

As Craig Murray noted in a scathing indictment:
"BBC journalism hit a new low today. The BBC News channel devoted only a single sentence to Palestine’s diplomatic coup in gaining full membership of Unesco. It used that single sentence once at 18.23 and once during the following hour. And this is that single sentence: “Israel says that Unesco’s decision to admit Palestine to full membership will damage the prospects for peace in the Middle East.”

No other view was given, We did not hear what Palestine says, or what Unesco says, or what any of the huge majority of 107 countries which voted for Palestine say. The only view we were given was the Israeli view, and there was no questioning or discussion of that view.  
“Israel says” – what an astonishing opening two words to a report on a great day for Palestinian diplomacy. Everyone connected with BBC News should be utterly ashamed. Why don’t we just save the license fee and let Netanyahu’s office broadcast the news instead?"

Between US financial blackmail and loaded/curtailed reportage, Israel can still take some comfort in having its crimes funded and sanitised.


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