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B’nai B’rith International decries the Palestinians’ latest bid for international recognition at UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and strongly urges UNESCO’s General Conference to reject its proposal for full membership.

The Palestinians submitted a request on Oct. 5 to UNESCO’s executive board for full membership in the cultural agency. This tactic of seeking statehood recognition represents a complete disregard of the need for direct negotiations.  

Of the cultural agency’s 58-member executive board, 40 approved the Palestinian request; 14 abstained. Only the United States, Germany, Latvia and Romania voted against the proposal. The board can now recommend the request go to a vote at the upcoming UNESCO General Conference, at which a two-thirds majority of its 193 nation-members is needed for approval.

“UNESCO, or any international organization for that matter, is not the place to grant recognition of a Palestinian state. Seeking such recognition ignores and delays the necessary discussions about what shape proposed borders would take; the very recognition of Israel as a Jewish state; security concerns, and many other issues,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “All such determinations can only be made directly between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

Since President Mahmoud Abbas announced his application to the U.N. Security Council for full U.N. membership on on Sept. 23 before the General Assembly, the Palestinians have also sought influence in the World Trade Organization, and they recently obtained partnership status in Europe’s human rights body, the Council of Europe.

“There cannot be a two-state solution without a peace plan, whose terms can only be determined through direct, bilateral talks between the Israelis and Palestinians without any preconditions,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “It is unacceptable that the Palestinian diplomats continue to pursue international support despite continuing, firm opposition from both the United States and Israel.”

B’nai B’rith has been active in the United Nations since the world body’s inception, and will continue to monitor these developments.