VANUATU MINISTER EXPLAINS UNESCO VOTE AGAINST PALESTINE

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Did not want to ‘jeopardize’ U.S. funding

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 18, 2011) - The Minister for Education, Marcellino Pipite said he had three basic reasons why he voted with Israel and the USA at the UNESCO conference in Paris against granting the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) full United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) membership.

"The reasons are first, USA alone provides about 25% or more of funds to UNESCO.

"And at the same time the US Congress has unanimously endorsed a stand that USA will not support any country or organization that stand against the State of Israel in terms of monetary support or assistance.

"Prior to the UNESCO conference I met the USA officials and presented a request for second Millennium Challenge Funds and did not want to jeopardize this with voting against Israel.

"The third reason is that Vanuatu as a Christian country cannot vote against Israel," Education Minister Marcellino Pipite explained to Daily Post.

The Education Minister attended the recent UNESCO conference in Paris where the main theme of the Conference was to grant PLO full membership of UNESCO.

Minister Pipite has said it was easy for him to take the stand at the time to vote with Israel and the USA and few other countries not to grant full membership right to PLO in the UNESCO.

But, Mr Pipite explained that the reasons given were all fundamental to the Republic of Vanuatu. He said the third reason is quite clear and that is that Vanuatu has the origins of its faith in Israel and as such it must stand with Israel.

"I know these are challenging issues for Vanuatu and as far as the country’s foreign policy is concerned but Vanuatu cannot continue to play the role of being abstained all the time when voting on issues pertaining to Israel during the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

"We are 31 years old and must decide for ourselves where we stand. We cannot remain forever neutral and play absenteeism attitude in the UN General Assembly," Minister Pipite stated.

He went on to state that: "I leave it to any politician to challenge the decision I took at the UNESCO Conference in Paris. All along Vanuatu has been abstaining in voting in the UN and the time now is to make our stand clear. I know the Opposition has been against me on the issue but that is their right to their views while as long as I am a state Minister I must show where I stand as far as Israel and the USA are concern.

"I sympathized with the PLO and support the need for the peace process in the Middle East. But as far as voting is concern, the recent stand I took to vote with Israel I have made that clear myself through the local media," he said.

" As a Christian Nation, we must fulfill God’s promises and one of the key promises from GOD is found in Genesis 12: 3 and this is also a reason that I want to see Vanuatu blessed and believe the country will be blessed today," sate education Minister affirmed.

Minister Marcellino Pipite explained that he believed it was because of the stand he took to vote with Israel that helped guide him and the President of the Vanuatu Republican Party to reunite.

" I believe that because I took a stand to vote with Israel that God allowed all leaders of the Vanuatu Republican Party VRP to reunite as it was Maxim Carlot Korman who was then the Prime Minister of Vanuatu that accepted to establish diplomatic relations with the State of Israel," Education Minister Pipite explained to Daily Post.

During the recent state visit by the President of Vanuatu to Israel, the Israeli leaders acknowledged the stand that the Minister of Education Marcellino Pipite took in the recent UNESCO Meeting in Paris to vote with Israel. The state of Israel has welcomed the stand by the Education Minister Pipite for Vanuatu in the UNESCO conference in Paris.

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