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Bildt: UNESCO decision will 'hurt Palestine'
Photo: UNESCO/Dou Matar

Bildt: UNESCO decision will 'hurt Palestine'

Published: 01 Nov 2011 10:57 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Nov 2011 10:57 GMT+01:00

Sweden voted against the Palestinian application to join United Nations' cultural organisation UNESCO on Monday, arguing that the vote had come at the "wrong time" and would harm the Palestinian cause.

"Sweden voted no because we are of the opinion that this was a decision at the wrong time. Without strengthening the Palestinian cause... it will weaken UNESCO and its important work," Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt said in a comment on Monday.

Bildt defended Sweden's record on the status of Palestine arguing that the country is "among the strongest and clearest voices" on the issue.

He furthermore said that it was "unfortunate" that the EU was unable to unite on a common position before the UNESCO vote and claimed that the Palestinians had not considered the full implications.

"It is a situation of which I have the impression that also Palestine stumbled in on without having thought it through properly."

UNESCO voted resoundingly on Monday to admit Palestine as a member state. The vote was carried by 107 votes in favour of admission and 14 votes against, with 52 abstentions.

Sweden was joined by the US, Germany and Canada in voting against the application.

All that remains is for the Palestinians to ratify the UNESCO's constitution to become a full member state in the UN organ.

The Palestinians have applied for full membership of the United Nations, an application which is however considered likely to fail due to the US holding a veto as a permanent member of the Security Council.

According to political commentator Ulf Bjereld, the Swedish decision to oppose membership was due to internal divisions within the Alliance coalition government.

"The Alliance government is very divided on the question of the future status of Palestine in the UN," Bjereld wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

"The Centre Party has spoken out in favour of Sweden at the United Nations to recognize Palestine as an independent state, the Christian Democrats are uncertain, the Moderates duck the issue and the Liberals have said an unequivocally no," he explained.

The Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) are known to oppose a Palestinian membership of the UN and the Swedish UNESCO delegation is led by EU minister and Liberal party member Birgitta Ohlsson.

In a statement released by Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund after the vote, he explained that Sweden had taken note of the Security Council stand.

"Our vote... should be seen in the perspective of how important we see it to reach a two-state solution within the timescale fixed by the Quartet on the Middle East," referring to the US, the EU, the UN and Russia who are involved in mediating the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"It does not prejudge in any way Sweden's position on the issue of Palestine's status if it is taken up in the UN General Assembly," the statement concluded.

The Swedish decision however drew criticism from some quarters on Tuesday with former Green Party spokesperson, Maria Wetterstrand, comparing the decision to Sweden's approach to the Baltic States in the early 1990s.

"The government's 'wrong time' on Palestine sounds like quite a few Social Democrats sounded when the Baltic states sought recognition. Equally misguided, I think," she said via Twitter.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:58 November 1, 2011 by Grokh
maybe if they stopped brainwashing their children they would get more support...
12:08 November 1, 2011 by ?????
Blah, blah, blah... and in the end we do what USA wants...
12:24 November 1, 2011 by Iraniboy
It will harm the so-called moral values of you and your party Mr Bildt. Even France and Norway and many European countries couldn't reject this moral duty. It is sad that this so-called Liberal Party is defending very unliberal values.

Wrong time? Yes Mr Bildt! More than 50 years of waiting is short they should wait another 50 years! How can possibliy UNSC voting effect the whole issue when everyone knows the the US will veto it?

Unfortunate for the EU? When the majority said Yes to it. If there were any united voice it was Yes Mr Bildt! You only marginilised Sweden among International communities.
12:43 November 1, 2011 by asteriks
Bildt should say how much money he got (from USA or Israel) for this.
14:37 November 1, 2011 by matona1
Sweden human right is always in theory not in pratical,and the whole world know that our leaders are still AMERICA s puppets .CONGRATULATIONS TO THE STRONG VOICE AND STRONG NATIONS OF THE WORLD ,PLS do not give us reason why u follow loosers
15:39 November 1, 2011 by conboy
Bildt the friend of Palestine? Ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!
16:23 November 1, 2011 by zircon
More and more it becomes very clear where Sweden stands on it's foreign politics and policies. And some of them are very indiscriminate to both for and against when it suits you. And then again you don't have to be alone on this one either...
16:26 November 1, 2011 by N0DE
Now that's why I always say , Swedes will do whatever US wants them to do ....
17:32 November 1, 2011 by Coaxen
It's shameful that Sweden participates in America's little games with Israel.
17:45 November 1, 2011 by calebian22
Well, UNESCO just said goodbye to 22% of it's budget. The US established a law in the early 90's making it compulsory to withhold dues if "Palestine" were admitted into UNESCO.

Oh and Iraniboy, Palestine would have been a country 60 years ago if the Arab League and the Palestine Arab high committee had not rejected UN resolution 181. However it is easier to scream about the plight of the poor Palestinians rather than realizing they could be living in a Mediterranean heaven if they hadn't been greedy, evil bastards in 1947.
18:14 November 1, 2011 by burito
Ya-ya-ya...all you do is complaining and bul&&iting all you palestinian-musulmanity lovers.You would have your state and whatever membership long time ago,if you just stop all bulls**t .But you just do what you do best....
18:55 November 1, 2011 by guliver
Coaxen

Trying to get a Palestinian state without recognizing our right to exsist ,going on with shelling our cities and citizens ,will not bring them to their goal,even if a Palestinian state will be recognized by the UN there is the need of agreement with Israel on the future borders,

Mr. Abu Mazen has to come to peace talks without pre conditions and with full recognition of our right to exsist
19:08 November 1, 2011 by Prat
Who is against Palestine's right to exist? Palestine might be a homeland for the remaining Semitic peoples.
20:32 November 1, 2011 by Iraniboy
@calebian22

What you or your parents did 50 years who doesn't strip your basic human values. These values should include on any nation no matter how bad they past has been. That's why those 14 countries voted against a basic moral right.

For Sweden it is like a big immoral bomb that has shocked everyone.

For the US who is neither committed nor acclaim any moral or liberal values, it is more understandable. However it is too embarrassing for for the US that they ignore the world and then threaten them this is more of Kim Yong and Ahmadinejad approach! But hey welcome to the board one more idiot!
21:06 November 1, 2011 by calebian22
Iraniboy,

Basis human values? Like indiscriminately firing missles into Israeli housing settlements where no military personnel are located? That wasn't 60 years ago, that was this past weekend in Ashkelon. The same subhuman mentality that rejected the partitioning in 1947 because a Jewish state would be a neighbor is the same mentality of Hamas and Fatah today. If you are putting Abbas or Al Zahar on basic human value pedestals, you are more deluded than your posts usually indicate.
22:29 November 1, 2011 by IranianBoy
(this is a different id than IraniBoy)

@guliver

I believe they have negotiated previously when Israeli government stopped building new accommodations in the land that belongs to palestinians according to 1967 UN resolution. But when Israeli government started to build in palestinians land again, they stopped negotiating.

now, I believe you don wanna negotiate with me when i'm continually kicking you in your balls and saying " heeeey! come on! let's negotiate if I can kick you in your balls or not....!" Or do you?!

and shelling the Israeli land? hah! I am pretty sure every shell that lands israeli soil is like a god's gift to israeli government. and ironically these shellings happen whenever israeli government is under international pressure.

the terrorist hamas and the terrorist iranian government are the best friends of terrorist israeli government who took advantage of US elections 3 years ago and invaded Lebanon and killed 1400 people of which 700 were women and children. I believe you dont care about this 1400 becuz as an old politician once said, when one person dies, it is a death, but when 100 people die, it is just a number.

not-so-much-surprisingly when there was a resolution to be passed by european countries after that genocide by israeli army inside lebanon, Ahmadinejad suddenly went to that gathering and again called for destruction of the state of israel and not-so-much-surprisingly that resolution against israel did not pass. ONLY becuz of Ahmadinejad's meddling. (you can call it a shelling! a gift from a terrorist to a terrorist) yeah terrorists are always friends with eachother.
18:46 November 2, 2011 by guliver
Iranianboy

We are not going to negotiate about our right to exsist.

We are not going to deal about the wish of Abu Mazen and Hamas to cancel our stae from the world map

We are not going to gamble our lives with Iran.

Our minister Ben Elihezer said to Ahmed El Najar:"if Israel will be canceled also Iran will have the same sort.

Peace is possibile when you come to a table without pre conditions.

Israel withdrown all its army and settlers from Gaza strip and we continue to suffer from their rockets.

Israel withdrown from all Sinai taking out the settlers and army and we get terroristic attack on our tourists buses on their way to Eilatand our Embasy got burnt.

Israel has made a peace treaty with Jordan and our Ambassador had to escape from there.

No I do not believe you are interesting in peace but just getting the land back and pushing us to the ocean.It will not work this way.
22:53 November 2, 2011 by xexon
Israel is no Jewish state. It's a zionist state.

Know the difference.

The zionists stay in power by creating enemies and then offering protection from these enemies when they show up. If you want to help the people of Israel, Jew and Palestinian alike, you need to help overthrow this racist, militant government.

Until the Arab Spring also blows through Israel, it ain't done yet.

x
00:08 November 3, 2011 by motti
First of all Unesco has refused to recognise any Jewish sites as being Jewish or Israeli, only as Palestinian. Of course as part of the uN what do you expect. Israel has been disallowed as a Human Rights Council, yet all Moslem nations have been welcomed. If this doesn't tell you how corruopt the UN is, , what will?

There are already 2 satates in what comprised the old British mandate of Palestine. Jordan and Israel. The second state being asked for is really the third. It is all very well for iraniboy etc to complain. however, the fault is your own. Israel was attacked by all the states surrounding her after it declared its independence. There was an exodus of Arabs, called for by the Grand Mufti and others to leave so they would not be in the way of invading forces intentions to slaughter all the Jews. That admirable dedication is still true today. More than twice as many Jewish refugees were forced to leave Islamic dominated lands in north Africa and the middle east. Countries they lived in for thousands of years before Islam..

You successfully managed to make most Islamic lands JEWFREE, now you are intent in making those same lands CHRISTIANFREE. History proves me right and you know this. So why don't you admit it. How sad you Islamic losers really are.
00:54 November 3, 2011 by willowsdad
I wonder what is the reaction of Mr. Bildt and his government when Israel continues to build settlements on stolen land?
14:15 November 4, 2011 by guliver
Xexon

In Israel are living 6 millions Jews out 7 millions citizens.

The Zionisim is the definition of the movment who created Israel and its goal was re establish the home land of the Jewish people in his country.

The main language in Israel is Hebrew,

You can not cancel the historical connection between the Jewish people and his home land though you deny it.

In Israel there is a democratic election every 4 years ,the government is elected by us and we respect all the parties including Balad the Arabic party in which their members stand up in Knesset and call for the destruction of their own state
20:35 November 4, 2011 by Catarin
The problem with UNESCO arises from them awarding ancient Israeli religious sites to Muslims. The story of the Tomb of the Patriarchs where Abraham and Sarah are buried is related in the Torah. Two other tombs, that of Rachel and Joseph, ancient icons of Judaism, are in Palestinian areas, and they bar Jews from praying there unless the Jews bring a contingent of IDF soldiers with them to protect them from Arab attacks. The Christian site of Bethlehem is also in Muslim hands.

The Arab Muslims will not acknowledge that the Jews founded and built Jerusalem thousands of years ago. The time of Moses is estimated to be from 1500 BCE to 1200 BCE. Judaism was so popular in its early days that many surrounding cultures converted, pushing the Jews' timeline back further. The Arab Muslims scoop up these ancient shrines and build upon them. They are not protected as Jewish sites, rather the Muslims claim them, build around them, and change the time lines. Then Jews must fight to visit them.

UNESCO brought this on themselves. They took Jewish shrines and gave them to Muslims and encouraged Muslims to put the cart before the horse. It is U.S. law that the Palestinians cannot receive our aid (our taxes) unless the Palestinians follow the accepted peace plan. The U.S. cut off $60 M to UNESCO and may cut off the millions it gives Palestinians yearly to support themselves. The Arab Palestinians are on welfare, so I don't think it was very smart to screw around with this.

Can you think of any place in the world where UNESCO is allowed to give one people's religious sites to another people? I don't see any Shiite sites in Iraq given to Sunnis. I don't see this happening any place in Europe and the U.S.

The Arab Palestinians delude themselves that they have rights they don't have. They do not accept world history, only Muslim history which they make up as they go along.

This is just one explanation for the many reasons there is no peace in the Holy Land of Jews and Christians.
09:10 November 16, 2011 by shahislam
There are good and easier solutions available but we need to drastically take appropriate measures to change gloomy, positive-vision-less some members of the Western Think-Tank, Supercommittee etc. first of all.
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