UNESCO suspends U.S., Israel voting rights over Palestinian row


(JTA) — UNESCO suspended the voting rights of the United States and Israel for two years after they stopped paying dues in protest of the U.N. cultural body granting full membership to the Palestinians.

Both countries missed a Friday deadline to provide an official justification of its non-payment and a plan to pay back its missed dues to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a source told Reuters. The source said the failure automatically triggered the suspension of voting rights.

As of the Friday morning deadline, “nothing was received from the United States,” the source said. Two separate diplomatic sources also confirmed the deadline had been missed, triggering the suspension of voting rights.

The withdrawal of U.S. funding, which to date amounts to approximately $240 million — some 22 percent of the UNESCO budget — has plunged the organization into a financial crisis, forcing it to cut programs and slash spending, Reuters reported.

The United States has characterized UNESCO’s move as a misguided attempt to bypass the two-decade-old peace process. Washington says only a resumption of peace talks ending in a treaty with Israel can result in Palestinian statehood.

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