(apapromotions)The Obama administration is once again betraying our ally Israel and demonstrating just how hypocritical it can be by attempting to circumvent US laws that bar funding of any United Nations agency that grants full membership status to Palestine. The stunning and shameful Obama move centers on a covert attempt to re-establish funding to UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
In 2011, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attempted to avoid peace negotiations with Israel by enacting a bogus scheme to request the UN recognize Palestinian statehood. UNESCO was the ONLY United Nations agency to grant full membership to Palestine. Immediately, Obama announced the cut-off of US funding to UNESCO according to US laws passed in 1990 and 1994. This funding accounts for about 22% of UNESCO’s annual budget – around $80 million a year.
The move put enormous financial pressure on the United Nations as a whole, which deeply depends on US funding, and helped assure that no other UN agencies would recognize Palestinian statehood or grant Palestine member status.
However, the Obama administration has now done a complete about-face, sneaking measures to re-fund UNESCO into the 2013 proposed Obama budget! Within the budget, the State Department requested $79 million for UNESCO. An additional $40.5 million was also requested for UNESCO under the heading of “contingent requirements.” This additional funding would actually cover the balance of the FY 2012 assessment for UNESCO. In other words, it would back-pay UNESCO for the funding Obama withdrew – meaning they would never have actually lost any funding in the first place!
A footnote in the Obama 2013 proposed budget, submitted to Congress this month, makes clear that this was not an accidental move on the part of the Obama administration – one in which they simply “forgot” that funding had been cut off. To the contrary, the footnote boldly declares, “The Department of State intends to work with Congress to seek legislation that would provide authority to waive restrictions on paying the US assessed contributions to UNESCO.”
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized the Obama move by stating, “The Palestinian leadership’s dangerous statehood scheme at the UN was dealt a significant blow last year after the US cut off funding to UNESCO due to its admission of ‘Palestine’. Resuming US funding would give a green light for other UN bodies to follow in UNESCO’s footsteps and support the Palestinian statehood push. Any effort to walk back this funding cutoff will pave the way for the Palestinian leadership’s unilateral statehood scheme to drive on, and sends a disastrous message that the US will fund UN bodies no matter what irresponsible decisions they make.”
The Chairwoman then blasted the Obama administration, adding, “I am deeply disappointed that, rather than standing up for U.S. law and for our key ally, Israel, the Administration is seeking to remove this roadblock to the unilateral recognition of a ‘Palestinian state.’”
Jennifer Rubin noted in her Washington Post blog, “This is further evidence that the administration remains wedded to its failed attempt to cozy up to the Palestinian Authority and alleviate it from any adverse consequences flowing from its abrogation of international agreements to seek a bilateral settlement with Israel.”
This development comes directly on the heels of the Obama administration’s refusal to cut-off funding for the Palestinian Authority in the wake of the new “unity” deal struck between the P.A. and Hamas. Again, US law bars funding of designated terrorist groups – such as Hamas!
Elliot Abrams, former deputy national security advisor, recently wrote that this merger between the P.A. and Hamas also effectively ends any “peace process”:
[T]here is a price to pay for these theatrics, for no one can seriously expect Israel to negotiate peace with a combined Fatah-Hamas team when Hamas is dedicated to Israel’s destruction. It is not the PA but the PLO that formally negotiates with Israel, and one of the most damaging aspects of the “reconciliation” agreement is that Hamas is supposed to join the PLO. Once it does, all but the most ardent peace-processors will have to admit the negotiations track is truly frozen. Yes, perhaps Hamas will magically take that occasion to abandon its previous hatred of Jews and Israel, abandon terrorism, and declare itself ready for peace with Israel. If so, let’s all go back to Camp David or Annapolis for another round. If not, if Hamas is admitted into the PA government and the PLO as the terrorist group it is today, let’s acknowledge that the Palestinian leadership has turned away from any genuine effort to negotiate peace.
Rubin addresses the Obama administration’s response to both issues when she writes, “But of course the administration will do none of that [cut-off funds to the Palestinian Authority and close PLO offices in US]. It won’t even abide by the cut-off of UNESCO funds, the one symbolic move that demonstrated the futility of the P.A.’s unilateral declaration mandate. This is how the administration behaves before an election. Can you imagine how it will conduct itself if it should get four more years and be alleviated of any electoral pressure to stand with our ally Israel?” (MORE)