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Politics Trumps Strategy When It Comes to the U.N.

P.A. moves will also prompt withholding of crucial aid

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Sens. Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham in August.(Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, the Obama Administration was unusually boastful of halting funding to UNESCO—which was an unequivocal requirement of U.S. law—following the cultural group’s acceptance of the Palestinian Authority. In fact, it has little to be proud of. The United States may end up defunding many other U.N. groups that the P.A. seeks to join next, including even more important ones like the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency. There will also likely be legislation to back the United States out of UNESCO altogether as well as to revoke the more than $550 million in annual U.S. aid to the P.A. All told, the P.A. gambit could turn out to be the catalyst for accomplishing the very thing that many conservatives have long sought for a host of reasons: severe U.S. retrenchment from the United Nations. (Israel announced it is withholding P.A. funds and amping up construction in disputed areas, starting with 2,000 new units in East Jerusalem, in response to the UNESCO move.)

Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin has the must-read report. What is remarkable is that even the people spearheading these moves believe they are not in U.S. interests. Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a notable voice on foreign affairs, said, “What you are going to do is eventually lose congressional support for our participation in the United Nations. That’s what’s at risk here. That would be a great loss.” And yet he is the one who will introduce the bill to have the United States remove itself from UNESCO! No longer giving aid to the P.A.? “I don’t think that’s in our near-term or long-term interest,” according to Graham. Yet politics dictate that he support it: “if the Palestinians continue to go to more organizations, such as the World Health Organization, well—it’s just going to be politically impossible for a guy like me to support a body who’s playing a destructive game with the peace process.” (In September, Anthony Cordesman Congress Cuts P.A. Aid; ‘Political Opportunism.’)

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Marc R says:

What else is the P.A. supposed to do? Well, it could actually negotiate instead of coming up with reasons not to negotiate. It could hold elections, considering Abbas’ term expired several years ago.

The PA has refused to negotiate and continues to set more and more preconditions before it will negotiate.

Negotiations would have resolved many of these issues a long time ago.

Over and over the PA has refused negotiated agreements and instead pushed for anything but negotiations, anything but dealing with the real issues.

So what we have is the PA getting symbolic victories and real losses.

Bill Pearlman says:

The UN is a joke. And has been for a long time

Your article states that related to pulling out of the UN: “This is, obviously, an absurd situation.” Unfortunately, you haven’t given the reader a good reason for why we should stay in the UN. Yes, there are possibly some good agencies in the UN (WHO might be one of them — I don’t have enough knowledge to comment). Their human rights organization is a disaster; the general assembly itself represents, by and large, a vast majority of anti-Semitic countries. Frankly, to hell with them.

Tracy still doesn’t get it.The Palestinians don’t want peace. If the U.S. had a rational policy, it would stop funding the UNRWA and insist the UN start fining homes for the descendants of Palestinian refugees.

The US could also stop funding the PA unless they started providing permanent homes for the descendants of Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank. Instead the PA is building a city for rich Palestinians near Ramallah. Want to guess what U.S. aid money is going for?

Really? The response it to change the law so that the PA can act with impunity? Maybe the adminsitration should have seen this problem coming months ago and taken action then to prevent it from happening. Instead the author proposes that in response to each slap in the face from the PA the US simply responds “thank you sir, may I please have another”. While the short term impact of these funding cutoffs may or may not be in the US’ interests, it is clear that in the long term, not acting would be much more harmful.

Jacob Arnon says:

The UN cultural organizations are not just cultural they are political and are playing the game of “lets de-legitimize Israel.”

Not just the US but all those who are not antisemites should resign from these UN so called cultural, health organizations which are nothing but fronts for Arab/Muslim Jew hatred.

The US insanely isolates itself from the world community yet again on Israel’s behalf.


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Politics Trumps Strategy When It Comes to the U.N.

P.A. moves will also prompt withholding of crucial aid

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