UNESCO to vote on Palestinian membership
The Palestinian quest for international recognition of a Palestinian state faced a second major test Monday, as members of the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO prepared to vote on a request for full Palestinian membership dpa reported
The 193 members of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization are expected to vote on the Palestinian application at a general conference in Paris.
A victory for the Palestinians could put the agency in a financial bind.
The United States government - the biggest contributor to UNESCO's budget - is barred by US legislation from funding a UN agency that gives Palestine full membership.
"There are consequences if Unesco votes in this direction," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland warned last week.
US and European diplomats have been scrambling to try avert a showdown by trying to convince the Palestinians to delay the application or to accept a status less than full membership.
But Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki said at the weekend the PA would agree to nothing less than full membership.
The application cleared the first hurdle on October 5 when UNESCO's executive board voted in favour of membership.
The Palestinians say they are confident two-thirds of UNESCO members will vote in favour Monday.
UNESCO membership would also allow Palestinian leaders to apply for sites such as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On September 23 the Palestinians applied for full UN membership, but the application has yet to pass a Security Council vote. The US has said it will veto the application.
No country has a veto at UNESCO.