US Cuts $60M to UNESCO after P.A. Vote

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Hours after UNESCO voted to grant full member status to "Palestine," the U.S. cut millions in funding to the organization.

The $60 million payment was scheduled for November but scrapped because of a law that prohibits funding a group that accepts the Palestinian Authority as a member before a peace deal is reached.

"Palestinian membership as a state in UNESCO triggers longstanding legislative restrictions which will compel the United States to refrain from making contributions to UNESCO," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Israel was also displeased with UNESCO's decision.

Click play for reaction on the vote from CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell.

"Israel rejects the decision of the General Assembly of UNESCO of the 31st [of] October accepting Palestine as a member state of the organization," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

"This is a unilateral Palestinian maneuver that will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility of a peace agreement," Foreign Ministry officials added.

The UNESCO vote is the latest win for the Palestinians in their bid to gain acceptance to the United Nations as a country, thereby avoiding peace talks with Israel.

The Palestinians are also seeking full membership in the U.N. General Assembly.  The U.S. promises to veto it unless a peace deal with Israel is reached.

"The decision (UNESCO'S) will not turn the Palestinian Authority into an actual state, yet places unnecessary burdens on the route to renewing negotiations," the statement read. Click here to read the full press release.

The 107 to 14 vote, with 52 abstentions, easily fulfilled the 81-vote requirement granting full membership status to the P.A. The U.S., Canada and Germany were among the countries voting against the bid, while Russia, China, France, India, South Africa and Brazil were among those voting in favor.

Prior to the vote, some U.S. congressmen said if the P.A.'s bid succeeds, the U.S. should withdraw its funding for UNESCO, some $80 million, which represents about 22 percent of the organization's budget.

'UNESCO deals in science, not science fiction," said Israeli ambassador to UNESCO Nimrod Barkan, YNet reported.

"They forced on UNESCO a political subject out of its competence. They've forced a drastic cut in contributions to the organization," Barkan said, calling the decision a "tragedy."

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Efrem Graham

Efrem Graham

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at