Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Obama seeks to restore aid to bodies that recognize 'Palestine', Congress says no

Obama/Kerry seek to renew funding to organization that accepts state" not recognized by U.S. – despite law forbidding this.
(INN) The State Department has asked Congress for nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to fund UNESCO – the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization – even though this is currently against the law.

The law states that the U.S. may not pay dues to any UN organization that grants the PLO full membership as a state – unless such a state has resulted from an Israel-PA negotiated settlement. Since 2011, when UNESCO voted to admit the "State of Palestine" as a member despite the fact that the above condition was not met, the U.S. has in fact not paid dues, in keeping with the law.

However, not only is the State Department now asking for $160 million to cover past dues and $76 million for current dues, it is also asking for a new law enabling the president to waive the law specifically for UNESCO.

Elliott Abrams, Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy and former Assistant Secretary of State, strongly objects. "The old adage 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' would seem to apply here." He explains that the current legislation was for the purpose of deterring "UN organizations from giving the Palestinians the diplomatic victory they wanted - being treated as a state - unless and until they negotiated a peace agreement with Israel. And it worked: since the U.S. move in 2011, other key UN organizations have not followed UNESCO down the PLO's preferred path. The U.S. pays about 22% of the budget of UNESCO and most other UN organs, so the threat of a loss of U.S. dues gets serious attention."

Abrams writes that if the law was to be "repealed or waived, it's logical to expect other UN bodies to see that the Americans are bluffing - and to give the Palestinians full membership. Yet that is clearly where the Obama administration is heading, unless Congress blocks them."

Fortunately, our Republican-majority Congress has some morals about this.

Congress Rejects Obama Move to Restore Funding for Anti-Israel U.N. Group.
(WFB) Congress has rejected a request by the Obama administration to restore U.S. funding for a United Nations organization long criticized for its anti-Israel bias, according to sources on Capitol Hill. [...]

The Washington Free Beacon disclosed earlier this week that the Obama administration was pressuring lawmakers on Capitol Hill to restore around $80 million in annually funding to the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, otherwise known as UNESCO.

The administration argued that the lack of funding was harming the United States’ credibility at UNESCO and contributing to a rise in anti-Israel actions, such as a recent move to label Jerusalem’s Western Wall as a Muslim holy site.

The State Department requested that a waiver be added to the Senate’s version of a sprawling yearly spending bill set to be approved by Congress before year’s end. However, that request was killed off by lawmakers and did not make its way into the final text of the bill.

The administration’s effort to restore UNESCO funding, despite a law banning it, raised concerns among Republican leaders and prompted several to take a stand against it.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), who spearheaded efforts to block the funding waiver, told the Free Beacon that Republican leadership in the Senate took a bold stand by rejecting the administration’s request.

“I thank congressional Republican leadership for working with Senator [Marco] Rubio and me to uphold a 25-year-old law and stop the Administration from air-dropping back-door funding to UNESCO, the U.N. organization whose anti-Israel member states have granted membership to the non-state actor of ‘Palestine’ and provocatively tried to designated the Western Wall in Jerusalem as a Muslim holy site,” Kirk told the Free Beacon in a statement.