Palestine is admitted to UNESCO

Palestine is now a full UNESCO member. The UN cultural-heritage organization’s recognition will boost Palestine’s bid for admission as a state at the United Nations.

"I think the success of the Palestinians to achieve membership in the UNESCO is important in terms of the Palestinian attempts to get recognition of Palestine as a state; it’s part of the buildup in the Palestinian efforts towards achieving international recognition," said the head of the Palestinian Press Office, Ghassan Khatib.

UNESCO is the first UN agency to provide full membership to Palestine Mahmoud Abbas’s application to the New York-based body in September.

The Palestinian minister for tourism and antiquities said UNESCO recognition would help to protect and preserve the Palestinian cultural heritage.

"The full membership will open doors for us, especially to face the deliberate destruction of the cultural heritage by the occupation, and start to preserve the Palestinian sites which are eligible to be on the world heritage list," said the Palestinian Minister of Tourism and Antiques, Kholod Duiabes.

The United States, Canada, Germany and Holland voted against Palestinian membership. However, Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France voted in favor. Meanwhile, Britain and Italy abstained.

In response to the vote, the U.S. said it would withhold payments to UNESCO.

"I will call UNESCO to think twice about their decisions, because if they want to get funding from the U.S. and from other countries which support dialogue, they should not endorse unilateral decisions. In order to achieve real genuine peace in the Middle East it has to go through a dialogue and not though unilateral decisions," said Danny Danon, a member of the Israeli parliament.

Israel said that full Palestinian membership in the cultural agency would only harm prospects for Middle East peace talks, and warned UNESCO against the decision.

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