The United States will not pay $60 million to a U.N. cultural and educational agency after it voted Monday to accept the Palestinian mission as a full member, triggering a U.S. requirement to cut off funds.
“We are not going to be able to continue contributing to the budget,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. “Palestinian membership as a state in UNESCO triggers longstanding legislative restrictions which will compel the United States to refrain from making contributions to UNESCO.”
Washington is required by law to cut off funding to any U.N. agency if the Palestinian Liberation Organization is granted membership in any group at the international body.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization voted 107-14 with 52 abstentions on Monday granting Palestinians full membership in the organization. The U.S. voted against the nomination. Eighty-one votes of the 173 UNESCO members were needed for full membership to be approved.
“Long Live Palestine!” one delegate reportedly shouted in French at the meeting.
The U.S. funds about 22 percent of UNESCO’s budget, or roughly $80 million annually. Nuland said the $60 million was scheduled to be sent in November.
“We obviously have to comply with U.S. law, to comply with U.S. restrictions. That said, we will have a conversation with Congress on moving forward,” she said.
Nuland said that if the U.S. ends up in arrears it could challenge U.S. membership status.
The U.S. rejoined UNESCO in 2002, after having left the organization 19 years earlier.