The Department of State still plans to fund the United Nations’ climate bureaucracy even though Palestine has become a full member of the body — which may violate a 1994 federal law preventing funds from going to international bodies that give Palestine membership as a state.
Obama administration officials disagree, and claim since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a treaty, it does not mean Palestine has actually become a member of a UN body.
“The UNFCCC is a treaty, and the Palestinians’ purported accession to it does not involve their becoming members of any UN specialized agency or, indeed any international organization,” Julia Frifield, the department’s assistant secretary of legislative affairs, wrote in a letter to Wyoming Republican Sen. [crscore]John Barrasso[/crscore], obtained by Politico.
Frifield’s letter comes after Barrasso and other Republicans sent a letter to the State Department saying Palestine’s becoming a full member of the UNFCCC triggers a 1994 law preventing the U.S. from funding the body and its related entities.
“And the law of the United States on this is clear. It is simple. It is unmistakable,” Barrasso said on the Senate floor Wednesday.
On Earth Day, Sec. John Kerry joined 130 other countries in signing a U.N. treaty to cut carbon dioxide emissions. That agreement — the administration doesn’t consider it a treaty — has been hotly opposed by Republican senators.
Republicans also opposed Kerry’s sending $500 million to the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund — an international fund to subsidize green energy projects around the world. Obama has promised $3 billion to the fund, and plans on sending $13 million next year.
But now, that may be illegal, according to Republicans, since Palestine is a member of the UNFCCC. Palestine became a member of the UNFCCC in March, even though it’s not a U.N. member.
“It says that the Green Climate Fund is one of it – it says – its ‘constituted bodies,’ so there’s a direct link,” Barrasso said. “The pipeline of money that the Obama administration is planning to send to these organizations is shut off.
“That’s what happened in 2011, when the Palestinian group joined the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – commonly known as UNESCO,” he said. “That triggered a similar 1990 law – and the United States has not given any money to UNESCO ever since.”
The State Department has countered Barrasso’s argument by claiming the UNFCCC is a treaty, and not an international organization, meaning they can still send funds to it and the Green Climate Fund.
“More generally, as a matter of policy, we do not believe that it advances U.S. interests to respond to Palestinian efforts by withholding critical funds that support the implementation of key international agreements,” Frifield wrote.
Palestine’s joining of the UNFCCC caused quite a stir among Israeli and U.S. diplomats who have been working for years to keep it from becoming a full U.N. member. Palestine was quick to use its joining of the climate convention to bash Israel.
“The Israeli occupation is destroying the climate in Palestine,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in April. “And the Israeli settlements are destroying the environment in Palestine. Please help us stop the occupation and the settlements.”
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