Palestine has enjoyed "observer" status at UNESCO since 1974. To approve its admittance as a full member will require a two thirds majority of voters. The request yesterday, and the recommendation, are the result of the Palestinian diplomatic push towards full recognition of Palestine as a state. And General Conference's response will be indicative of the extent of support for the issue of international recognition.
Within a framework of stalled peace negotiations, Palestinian diplomacy is seeking other ways to obtain international recognition. Weeks ago, there was the request made by Mahmoud Abbas at the UN Security Council for full membership of Palestine. But it is moving slowly and will certainly be blocked by the pre-announced veto by the United States (09/23/2011) Abbas asks Ban Ki-moon for a seat on the UN for Palestine).
UNESCO is another possible way to international recognition. The Palestinians are also trying to secure a bridgehead into the World Trade Organization and this week have won partnership status on the Council of Europe. All these initiatives aim to help achieve the main objective, namely, UN recognition of the Palestinian territories as a state. Their campaign is encountering fierce opposition from Israel and the United States. The U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, called UNESCO's reccommendation "inexplicable". "I call upon UNESCO to consider before voting because the status decision must be made at the UN and not in the ancillary units, which are subsidiary to the UN," said Clinton. The United States could decide to block its funding of UNESCO. Currently their loans make up 22 percent of the total. Congress has frozen $200 million (149 million euros) in aid to the Palestinians following their request for UN approval.