The US is threatening to leave UNESCO without funding, as the world's education and heritage organization executive committee backed the Palestinian bid to become a full member.
America resorted to threats after the Palestinians have made another inroad into the UN, by moving a step closer to joining the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – UNESCO.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned the UN organization to stay out of the question of Palestinian statehood while the issue is being examined by the Security Council. Clinton threatened to pull out of UNESCO, as it did under President Ronald Reagan, the Associated Press reports.
The US currently gives tens of millions of dollars to UNESCO, but cannot legally fund any UN body that admits a non-UN member state.
US lawmakers warned the cultural agency now could lose nearly $80 million in US contributions.
On Wednesday, UNESCO’s executive board voted in favor of allowing its 193 member states to decide whether or not to grant the Palestinian Authority full membership at the cultural agency.
Palestinians can now submit their bid to the UNESCO General Assembly for final approval by the end of the month. This would then allow them to have their monuments listed as World Heritage Sites.
The bid was given the green light despite fierce opposition from the United States.
This key diplomatic victory for the Palestinians at the UN comes ahead of the vote over its full statehood.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas applied to the Security Council for full UN membership in September.
The council is now working its way through the process.