Israel lashed out at the Palestinians and UNESCO on Wednesday after the U.N. cultural organization’s executive committee recommended the acceptance of Palestine as a full member with state rights.
“The Palestinians’ actions at UNESCO negate both the bilateral negotiations route and the Quartet’s proposal for continuing the diplomatic process,” the foreign ministry said, referring to a call by the diplomatic grouping on September 23 in which it urged a return to direct talks.
“Their actions are a negative response to Israel’s and the international community’s efforts to promote the peace process.”
Israel, which has long had a rocky relationship with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, accused the body of having its priorities wrong and said the move would not help the Palestinians achieve their desired-for statehood.
“UNESCO has remained silent in the face of significant change across the Middle East yet has found time during its current meeting to adopt six decisions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the ministry said.
“The decision to grant the Palestinians membership of UNESCO will not advance their desire for an independent state whatsoever,” it said in a statement.
Earlier on Wednesday, UNESCO’s executive committee voted by 40-4, with 14 abstentions, to approve the Palestinian bid, which will now be submitted to the UNESCO general assembly on October 25 for approval.
If approved, the upgrade in its status will represent a small diplomatic victory for the Palestinians who are currently working to secure full state membership at the United Nations in a move strongly opposed by both the United States and Israel.
But no power has a veto on the UNESCO committee, and Washington’s “no” vote in Paris was not enough to derail the bid. Palestinian leaders say they have come under enormous diplomatic pressure to abandon their candidacy.
UNESCO membership would not only be a diplomatic feather in Palestine’s cap, it would let it apply for its monuments to be classified as World Heritage Sites at a time when the heritage of much of the Holy Land is under dispute.