UNESCO Likely to Postpone Vote on Admitting PLO State Until 1991
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UNESCO Likely to Postpone Vote on Admitting PLO State Until 1991

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The Palestine Liberation Organization’s bid for admission to UNESCO as a Palestinian state has been effectively sidetracked as a result of strong pressure from the United States and its Western European allies.

The 51-member executive committee, which is the governing body of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is expected to adopt a resolution to defer the PLO’s request for two years, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

The resolution will be voted on Wednesday and will be submitted, for almost certain approval, to the UNESCO General Conference, the agency’s equivalent of the General Assembly, which convenes here from Oct. 17 to Nov. 16.

If the resolution passes, the PLO’s request for full membership will not come up for debate until UNESCO’s General Conference convenes here for its 136th session in October 1991.

The resolution was drafted after intensive lobbying against PLO membership by the Western European delegations and the U.S. observer mission.

John Bolton, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, played a pivotal role, according to diplomatic sources here.

Bolton wrote a strongly worded letter last week to UNESCO’s director general, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, warning that admission of the PLO would kill any chance of the United States rejoining the agency.

The United States withdrew from UNESCO in 1985, charging mismanagement and anti-Western bias.

Bolton also argued that a new status for the PLO in UNESCO would seriously harm the ongoing peace process in the Middle East.


Writing similar letters to the UNESCO official were Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and a bipartisan group of five members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Rep. Gus Yatron (D-Pa.).

Yatron is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on human rights and international organizations.

The resolution was introduced by a bloc of countries that support the PLO’s aspirations, yet it was to some degree a compromise.

While for all practical purposes it postpones the issue of admission, it would grant the “Palestinian state” certain cultural and educational privileges.

But it falls far short of full membership rights.

The countries sponsoring the resolution were Qatar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, Cuba, Sri Lanka, East Germany, Jordan, Mauritania, India and Senegal.

The resolution represents the latest of several setbacks for the PLO this year in its efforts to gain international recognition as a sovereign state.

The General Assembly of the World Health Organization, meeting in Geneva last spring, also voted to postpone for two years a PLO request for membership.

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