Israel to Reconsider Cooperation With UNESCO After Approval of Palestine Membership

After UN cultural agency grants Palestinians full membership earlier Monday, Foreign Ministry issues statement that Israel rejects the decision.

Israel rejects the decision of the General Assembly of UNESCO to grant the Palestinians full membership of the organization, the Foreign Ministry said Monday, and warned that Israel will now reconsider its future cooperation with the body.

UNESCO is the first UN agency the Palestinians have sought to join as a full member since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas applied for full membership of the United Nations on Sept. 23.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds his hands to his face as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the 66th session of the General Assembly at UN headquarters, Sept. 21, 2011.AP

In a statement issued Monday, the Foreign Ministry vehemently condemned the move, saying it is merely a symbolic gesture which hinders Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

"This is a unilateral Palestinian maneuver which will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement," the Foreign Ministry statement read.

Moreover, the statement suggested that Israel may now stop its cooperation with the cultural agency.

"Following the decision to accept Palestine as a regular member of UNESCO, the State of Israel will consider its further steps on ongoing cooperation with the organization," it read.

The motion to admit the Palestinians was passed by UNESCO members meeting in Paris, with 107 votes in favor, 14 against and 52 abstentions.

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

U.S. lawmakers had threatened to withhold some $80 million in funding to UNESCO if it approved Palestinian membership.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: משרד החוץ: ישראל שוקלת להפסיק את שיתוף הפעולה עם אונסק"ו