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Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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Tracking the Issues: A Waiver for UNESCO Funding Ban?

by Newsteam Staff
February 17, 2012

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian ambassador to UNESCO Elias Sanbar attend a news conference at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris December 13, 2011. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian ambassador to UNESCO Elias Sanbar attend a news conference at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris December 13, 2011. (Benoit Tessier/Courtesy Reuters)

President Obama’s budget proposal would waive a ban on funding UNESCO (TimesofIsrael), which was imposed in October 2011 after the organization officially recognized Palestinian membership (CNN). The request was included in a footnote stating, “The Department of State intends to work with Congress to seek legislation that would provide authority to waive restrictions on paying the U.S. assessed contributions to UNESCO. Should the Congress pass this legislation, this funding is sufficient to cover the FY 2013 UNESCO assessment and the balance of the FY 2012 assessment.”

Most of the GOP presidential candidates have sought to demonstrate their strong support of Israel. In a statement after the UNESCO ban, Newt Gingrich said he applauded the State Department for immediately moving to cut off funding. Rick Santorum called the statehood bid “an offense to the state of Israel,” while Mitt Romney has vowed to reduce financial assistance to the Palestinians if they continued to push statehood at the UN. Ron Paul is a long time opponent of the United Nations and even before the statehood vote advocated cutting off UNESCO funding.

To see more about the candidates’ positions check out CFR’s Issue Trackers on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the United Nations.

Suggested Other Reading:

CFR’s Elliott Abrams predicts that there is unlikely to be a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in 2012–instead the focus will be on the elections in the United States, the Palestinian Authority, and Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls one later this year. 

This CFR Backgrounder outlines the procedures and potential impact of the UN vote on Palestinian statehood.

In October, Foreign Policy examined how much a U.S. funding ban would hurt the organization.

Contributing Editor Liriel Higa

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