The Obama administration said UNESCO’s decision to admit Palestine as a member “undermines” the search for Middle East peace and triggers a Congressionally mandated cutoff of U.S. aid.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland called the vote “regrettable, premature and undermines our shared goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
The Israeli government condemned the move, calling it a setback to the peace process and threatened to halt cooperation with the U.N. cultural agency, Haaretz reported. In addition, it noted, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to convene his inner cabinet Tuesday to discuss further retaliation by imposing sanctions on the Palestinian Authority
"This is a unilateral Palestinian maneuver which will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement," the Foreign Ministry said.
Look for one of the Netanyahu government's favorite ways of thumbing its nose at critics: increasing settlement construction.
The vote was 107 to admit the Palestinians, 14 against and 52 abstentions. Opponents included the United States, Canada and Germany, while Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France voted in favor. Britain abstained.
Washington condemned the Palestinian end run around direct negotiations and said it would not succeed.
"The United State remains steadfast in its support for the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state, but such a state can only be realized through direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians,” Nuland said.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sharply criticized the vote as “a shortsighted, premature and irresponsible decision to support a reckless Palestinian tactic.”
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