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Ghana votes “Yes” granting Palestine full membership of UNESCO

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Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu - Education Minister

Ghana voted in favour of Palestine to be admitted as a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a decision which has led the US to freeze its $60 million funding to the UN cultural agency.

The voting was held during the 36th General Conference of UNESCO held at its headquarters in Paris from October 25 – 31, 2011. The Conference was attended by UNESCO’s 175 member states. Ghana’s delegation was led by Hon. Minister for Education, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu.

“Finally, a major highlight which also confirmed Ghana’s Foreign Policy on the matter of Palestinian Statehood was when the Minister Cast Ghana’s positive vote at the historic plenary session which granted Palestine membership of UNESCO,” the Ghana government said on its website.

The lopsided vote to admit Palestine as a member of UNESCO, which only the United States and 13 other countries opposed, triggered a long-standing congressional ban on US funding to UN bodies that recognize Palestine as a state before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached, according to CBS News. The vote tally was 107 to 14, with 52 abstentions.

Israel, on November 3, 2011, has also halted its financial contributions to UNESCO.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “ordered that Israel’s $2 million-per-annum participation in the budget of UNESCO be frozen, following the organisation’s decision to accept the Palestinian Authority into its ranks,” the premier’s office said, according to an AFP report.

But UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, has pleaded to the United States to “find a way forward” to continue its support to the world body as it will be “impossible” for the organisation to maintain its activities following the US decision to snap funding on Palestine’s membership issue.

By Ekow Quandzie

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