Mahmoud Abbas in colombia - AFP -  October 10 2011
Mahmoud Abbas on his visit to Colombia, October 10, 2011. Photo by AFP
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The United Nations cultural agency (UNESCO) is weighing a request to admit Palestine as a full member, a highly divisive bid that's part of the Palestinians' broader push for greater international recognition.

The wording of the proposal, obtained by Haaretz, states that the vote will be based on a request for membership that was submitted by the Palestinians originally in 1989. The proposal states that the Palestinians are committed to upholding the principles of UNESCO, and financially contributing to its budget.

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

U.S. officials oppose the Palestinian UNESCO request and say it could harm renewed efforts for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Palestinian officials are seeking full membership in the United Nations, but because that effort is expected to take some time, they are separately trying to get membership at Paris-based UNESCO.

Delegates at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization are debating the request Monday and expected to vote on it later in the day.

If the Palestinians are awarded membership in UNESCO, Israel may level sanctions against the Palestinian Authority. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thus far refrained from imposing sanctions on the Palestinians in response to their decision to unilaterally approach the UN in September.

Full Palestinian membership in UNESCO could cause Israel to stop transferring tax money that it collects for the Palestinians and is used to pay the salaries of policemen in the Palestinian Authority.