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Right Turn
Posted at 10:19 AM ET, 02/16/2012

Obama’s budget’s surprise: Restore UNESCO funding!

A sharp-eyed blogger alerted me to one more outrageous request in the Obama budget: Refunding of UNESCO. The chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), blasts the decision to restart funding for the group whose funds were cut off when it unilaterally recognized a Palestinian state:

The Palestinian leadership’s dangerous statehood scheme at the UN was dealt a significant blow last year after the U.S. cut off funding to UNESCO due to its admission of ‘Palestine.’ Now, the Administration is requesting to resume funding to UNESCO, despite the fact that it includes ‘Palestine’ as a member. Resuming U.S. funding would give a green light for other UN bodies to follow in UNESCO’s footsteps and support the Palestinian statehood push.
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.’
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 U.S. will fund UN bodies no matter what irresponsible decisions they make.

The request isn’t a mere oversight (Oops, oh yes, we cut those funds last year!). Instead, there is a deliberate scheme to get Congress to reinstate the funds. Ros-Lehtinen’s press release notes: “ ‘A footnote to page 52 of the Executive Budget Summary for Function 150 and Other International Programs states that “The Department of State intends to work with Congress to seek legislation that would provide authority to waive restrictions on paying the U.S. assessed contributions to UNESCO. Should the Congress pass this legislation, this funding is sufficient to cover the FY 2013 UNESCO assessment and the balance of the FY 2012 assessment.’ ”

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.

And by the way, the administration even in the wake of the new “unity” deal between the P.A. and Hamas has refused to cut off funds as required by U.S. law, which bars funding of designated terrorist groups. By announcing that Hamas is to join the PLO (whose offices represent the Palestinians in the U.S.), the action demands not only a cut-off of funds but the closing down of the PLO offices.

Former deputy national security advisor Elliott Abrams wrote recently that this merger 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.

But of course the administration will do none of that. 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?

By  |  10:19 AM ET, 02/16/2012

Categories:  Budget, Israel

 
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