Palestine has won a first diplomatic victory in its quest for statehood when the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation [UNESCO] executive committee backed its bid to become a member of the cultural body with the rights of a state.
Palestine’s Arab allies braved intense US and French diplomatic pressure to bring the motion before the committee’s member states, which passed it by 40 votes in favour to four – the US, Germany, Romania and Latvia – against it, with 14 abstentions.
The Palestinian bid will now be submitted to the UNESCO general assembly at the end of the month for final approval involving all 193 members based in Paris.
The move was swiftly criticised by the US and Israel. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said UNESCO should “think again” about voting on Palestinian admission.
Clinton, speaking to reporters during a trip to the Dominican Republic, also called the move “confusing,” as the UN Security Council weighs a request from the Palestinians for full UN membership, which the US opposes.
“I found quite confusing and somehow inexplicable that you would have organs of the United Nations making decisions about statehood or statehood status while the issue has been presented to the United Nations,” Clinton said.
“I think this is a very odd procedure indeed,” she said.
“The decision a…