Palestine Pushes Onto World Stage With U.N. Votes

Palestinians eager for self-empowerment and a state of their own are achieving mixed results on securing greater international support for their independence during recent interactions with the U.N.

The potential country achieved a major leap forward in global prominence by gaining admittance to UNESCO, the U.N.'s cultural agency, after 107 out of 173 U.N. members voted in favor of the status upgrade, according to The Associated Press.

By contrast, a proposed Nov. 11 bid by Palestinians to take a place amid U.N. members is in serious jeopardy after one of the organization's Security Council nations, Bosnia-Herzegovina, decided to abstain from voting on the proposal. The move leaves Palestine with eight confirmed votes, just short of the nine needed to sway the 15 nation board.

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Palestine's entry into UNESCO is a seemingly major political gain given the agency's role in preserving global harmony and heritage. Business Week, however, points out the move has already angered key world players like the U.S. and Israel.

America has since cut its UNESCO funding – nearly a quarter of the group's budget – following the vote. It removes an expected $60 million from UNESCO coffers, and strains relations further between America and Palestine as they both navigate Middle East diplomacy.

Bosnia's Security Council decision, meanwhile, surprised Palestinian officials who expected the state to be the motion's deciding force, AP reported. The decision was based on Bosnia's volatile ethnic and religious background, which necessitates a three-person presidency. The trio disagreed on the Palestine issue, with the Muslim Bosniak member voting yes, the Serbian member voting no and the Croat member staying neutral.

"The Palestinian statehood issue is one of the most important U.N. votes since President Obama entered office," wrote the Heritage Foundation's Brett Schaefer and James Phillips in a Sept. 19 analysis of the upcoming vote titled, "The U.N. Palestinian Statehood Vote: A Test of Obama's U.N. Engagement Strategy."
Such serious attempts at statehood from Palestine have angered its regional rival Israel. Israel desires an independent Palestine that has negotiated peace between the two nations, and the Palestinian government's U.N. proposals place that notion on the backburner.

"The Palestinian push for statehood absent a negotiated agreement with Israel is correctly perceived by the Obama administration as an attempt to isolate Israel that would deal a major setback to Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects," Schaefer and Phillips continued. "This effort threatens both U.S. and Israeli interests, and the Administration is right to oppose it."

Palestine could curry favor with other swing-vote nations, citing Columbia as the most likely candidate, AP reported. Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos has gone on record saying he would only support such a measure if Palestine negotiated a peace treaty with Israel first.

Palestine could also try changing Bosnia's voting position before November to win a majority among voting Security Council members. Previous talks between the two countries, however, have yielded few results. Bosnia also abstained from voting for Palestinian acceptance into UNESCO, though that decision didn’t impact the vote's outcome.

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