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Lawmakers See Unesco’s Move to Soften Anti-israel Action As Encouraging but Hardly Sufficient

The UNESCO executive board’s move toward softening the organization’s anti-Israel action was seen by Congressional sources today as encouraging but hardly sufficient to reverse the Congressional ban on funds for that United Nations body. The UNESCO executive board in Paris yesterday recommended to the organization’s general conference to change its position barring Israel from the UNESCO European regional group but left untouched the politicization embodied in harsh resolutions against Israel over excavations in Jerusalem. (See separate story from Paris.)

Congressional sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the executive board’s action is not enough for Congress to act upon since it is in any case tentative and has not yet been approved by UNESCO’s general conference. Discussion will take place, the sources said, among key Congressmen on the board’s action when the text becomes available.

MAY PROVIDE SOME CONTRIBUTION

Meanwhile, however, there is some feeling that Congress may vote to provide a portion of its annual contribution of $22.5 million to UNESCO in order to allow the United States to continue to vote in UNESCO.

Under UNESCO’s rules, a country that is in arrears in its contributions for two years loses its vote. The Congressional action last December in halting U.S. payments means that the U.S. has not made its payment for 1975 and the possibility exists if it does not pay its 1976 dues by early next year the board may act to suspend the U.S. vote. The question, Capitol Hill sources told the JTA, is in deciding how important it is to keep the U.S. vote.

These sources observed that UNESCO’s movement toward allowing Israel to participate in the European regional grouping will be relatively simple compared to getting the Arab states and their allies to refrain from continued condemnation of Israel and ostracizing it from important UNESCO activities and support. Israel is the only country which UNESCO has refused to place on a regional body.

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