1. DIPLOMACY

    UNESCO Allows Palestine State Bid

    Palestinian woman, holding a huge Palestinian flag, mark International women's day and call for national reconciliation between the rival Palestinian leading factions Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank in, during a rally in Gaza city, Tuesday, March 8, 2011. The head of the new U.N. women's agency said Tuesday there has been "remarkable progress" since International Women's Day was first celebrated a century ago but gender equality remains a distant goal because women still suffer widespread discrimination and lack political and economic clout.

    Hatem Moussa / AP Photo

    Despite intense pressure for the U.S. and its diplomatic allies against it, the powerful United Nations group UNESCO voted Wednesday to allow Palestine to join—which will put Palestine’s statehood bid before the General Assembly. The U.S. called the move “inexplicable,” and urged all delegates to vote no. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called UNESCO’s decision, which had 40 votes in favor and four against with 14 abstentions, “confusing,” and “the decision about status must be made in the United Nations and not in auxiliary groups.” Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas formally requested Palestine be admitted to the U.N. during the last General Assembly meeting, and it will likely be voted on in the next few weeks.

    Read it at Agence France-Presse