If UNESCO Admits PLO State, U.S. Won’t Consider Rejoining

The Bush administration warned the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Wednesday that there is no chance the United States will rejoin UNESCO if membership is granted to a “state of Palestine.”

The Palestine Liberation Organization applied for admission to the Paris-based international organization Tuesday as part of its campaign to gain international recognition for its self-proclaimed state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The U.S. warning does not contain a threat of withdrawing funds from UNESCO, as hangs over the World Health Organization, since the United States has not appropriated any funds for UNESCO since it withdrew in 1984.

State Department deputy spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday that the United States left UNESCO because of the organization’s politicization, longtime lack of budgetary restraint and poor management. Washington had been planning to review the decision this year, he said.

But, he said, it is “clear that admission of the PLO as ‘Palestine’ seriously damages any prospects for resuming U.S. membership in UNESCO.”

Boucher also pointed out that admission of the PLO would violate the requirement that members be sovereign states.

“UNESCO is not an appropriate forum for resolution of this divisive issue, which involves serious legal and political questions,” Boucher said.

“We have urged UNESCO to make every effort to prevent actions that would have adverse consequences for the organization, the U.N. system and the Middle East.”

Boucher said the United States would bring up the PLO’s attempts to join international organizations at its next dialogue with the PLO. He said this would adversely affect the dialogue, since it would take time away from more substantive subjects the PLO might wish to discuss.

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