Palestinians Preparing Membership Bids for More UN Agencies

Posted November 1st, 2011 at 2:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Palestinian officials say they are preparing to apply for membership to 16 other United Nations organizations following their admission to the U.N. cultural agency on Monday.

Members of the Palestinian U.N. delegation in Geneva said Tuesday UNESCO's vote approving the Palestinians' membership has “opened the door” to similar bids at other U.N. agencies based in the Swiss city.

The Palestinian officials say they are studying requirements for accession to the 16 agencies but did not name them or say when they plan to submit membership applications.

Senior Israeli ministers were meeting Tuesday to consider a punitive response to the UNESCO decision, which Israel has condemned as a “unilateral Palestinian maneuver” that hurts prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

The United States criticized UNESCO's move as “premature,” saying it undermines the international community's goal of a comprehensive Middle East peace plan.

The Obama administration also suspended a $60 million contribution to the agency planned for this month because of a longstanding U.S. law that prohibits American support for any U.N. body that admits Palestine as a full member.

UNESCO draws nearly a quarter of its funding from the United States. It is the first U.N. agency the Palestinians have sought to join since President Mahmoud Abbas applied to the United Nations for full membership of an independent Palestine in September.

In another development, Palestinian communications minister Mashour Abu Daqqa says hackers disrupted Palestinian Internet services throughout the West Bank and Gaza on Tuesday. Daqqa says “all” Palestinian IP addresses were exposed to the coordinated attack, which he believes had the support of a foreign government.