US opposes UNESCO vote on Palestine

Washington: The voting in UNESCO that made Palestine a member of this UN body is premature and undermines the international community`s shared goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, the US said today.

"Today`s vote at UNESCO to admit the Palestinian Authority as a member, is premature and undermines the international community`s shared goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East," White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, told reporters.

Today`s vote distracts us from our shared goal of direct negotiations that result in a secure Israel and an independent Palestine living side by side in peace and security, Carney said in response to a question.

"I mean, not unlike the issue of membership as we discussed, the path to peace is through direct negotiations, and we support measures and steps that bring the two sides closer to direct negotiations, which is the only way to resolve the differences between them," said the White House spokesperson.

UNESCO`s General Conference, which is its highest ruling body, took the decision by a vote of 107 in favour to 14 against, with 52 abstentions.

The move brings the total number of UNESCO member States to 195. Powerful Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, termed UNESCO vote as is anti-Israel and anti-peace.

"It rewards the Palestinian leadership`s dangerous scheme to bypass negotiations with Israel and seek recognition of a self-declared Palestinian state, and takes us further from peace in the Middle East," she said.