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36th UNESCO General Conference

U.S. Statement in Explanation of Vote on Draft Resolution 9.1 Regarding Membership for Palestine in UNESCO

Statement as delivered by U.S. Permanent Representative to UNESCO,  Ambassador David T. Killion, on 31 October 2011

Thank you, Madame Chair.

The United States has voted against Resolution 9.1 because we cannot accept the premature Palestinian admission for membership in a United Nations specialized agency such as UNESCO.

No nation is more committed to the quest for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians than the American people.  As President Obama said in May: 

"A lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples; Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace."

The United States has been very clear about the need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  But the only path to the Palestinian state that we all seek is through direct negotiations.  There are no shortcuts, and we believe efforts such as the one we have witnessed today are counterproductive.

Madame Chair, President Obama has made strong multilateral engagement across the UN system – including at UNESCO – a top priority and a core aspect of U.S. foreign policy. 

We are here in UNESCO today because the contributions it continues to make – including its mission of building peace; promoting education, culture and science; and its praiseworthy focus on Africa and on women and girls – are so very important to the United States.   However, we recognize that this action today will complicate our ability to support UNESCO’s programs.  There are other ways of promoting the cause of the Palestinian people that would not have involved seeking premature membership at UNESCO.  We sincerely regret that the strenuous and well-intentioned efforts of many delegations to avoid this result fell short.

Madame Chair, let there be no doubt.  The United States remains deeply committed to UNESCO and its noble mission to build peace in the minds of men and women.  Despite the challenges ahead, we pledge to continue our efforts to find ways to support and strengthen the important work of this vital organization.

Thank you, Madame Chair.