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November 1, 2011 1:57 am

PA “Calling the Agenda” Says Ackerman

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President Barack Obama meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office Thursday, May 28, 2009. The man sitting between them is an interpreter. Photo: Pete Souza.

“They’re calling the agenda and we’re going to respond as quickly as we can.”

Congressman Gary Ackerman, Ranking Member and former Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, has served in Congress for thirty years and is President of international council of Jewish Parliamentarians. Discussing the UNESCO vote admitting the Palestinian Authority to full member status and its long term implications, he presented possibilities that could have significant effects on both American and Israeli positioning and interests.

“Not a good day in Paris- a dark moment that could portend more,” said the 15 term Congressman.

Ackerman said UNESCO, “usually a consensus organization,” had been “pushed by the Palestinians, who refused to back off from pressing for (an acceptance) vote.” As demanded by American law, the United States has suspended all funding to UNESCO as of October 31, 2011, subsequent to its granting of full member status to the Palestinian Authority.

“We will not be paying our dues.  y US law, we will not pay dues to organizations that will have done this.” The Congressman acknowledged that UNESCO, which received 22% of its budget from the United States “did a lot of good stuff…its programs are of great importance to the United States and to our security interests as well.”

“The Palestinians are controlling the order of sequence of what they want to do….The PA seems adverse to direct negotiations with Israel, and is seeking alternate routes to try to gain legitimacy.” The legislator said this approach was “of grave concern” and noted that, at his last meeting with President Abbas, President Obama was “very vocal and extremely angry” at Abbas’s methodology. The Congressman expects that the PA will target other international organizations including the World Health Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization.  Should the Palestinians succeed in gaining member status, United States participation, as far as paying dues, will be prohibited by law.

Ackerman said he expected that the Palestinians will seek to have historically Jewish and Christian sites declared “world heritage sites” “within the Palestinian state.” His biggest concern, however, is that the Palestinians’ next move will be an attempt to gain membership in the ICC – the International Criminal Court. Was that to happen, he said, “the PA could bring a case that would have legal standing:  for example, it could charge Israel with international war crimes. This would have disastrous implications.”

Asked by the Algemeiner if monies not spent for United Nations organizational dues could be used to fund similar international programs under American direction, the Congressman replied that allotments are “appropriated specifically for the UN.” “We would have to re-program money, something that cannot be done automatically.” Additional expenditure is unlikely, and the funds are likely to be husbanded. “After their little blush of self-satisfaction, they should ask themselves how they plan on replacing 22 percent of UNESCO’s budget provided by the United States,” he concluded.

Ackerman said the President has been very firm. “If the Palestinians are going to try and make an end run, then we will be very strong against them.” He specifically noted that funding for the PA security forces built by General Dayton “with US financing, Israeli concurrence and Jordanian training” should not be cut. The security force is “one of the prime reasons it has been quiet within Palestinian territory. That money should not be cut…It would be a sad day and a backwards step.”

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  • Puzzled

    Ackerman supports “symbolic” cuts to UNESCO while he supports actual training of a PA military whose sole purpose is the destruction of Israel, G-d forbid. Isn’t it obvious where Ackerman stands on Israel?