Top of the Morning: Palestine Might Join UNESCO; Bahrain Doctors To Get New Trial

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Palestine One Step Closer to Full UNESCO Membership. UNESCO One Step Closer to Losing American Support.

In a preview of the diplomatic spats and funding battles to come around Palestine’s UN bid, UNESCO’s executive committee approved a Palestinian bid to join the organization as a full-fledged member. A victory for Palestine, though, may spell disaster for UNESCO’s funding. “Palestine’s Arab allies braved intense US and French diplomatic pressure to bring the motion before the committee’s member states, which passed it by 40 votes in favour to four against, with 14 abstentions. The Palestinian bid will now be submitted to the UNESCO general assembly at the end of the month for final approval. The United States urged all delegates to vote “no” at the general assembly, with its ambassador to the Paris-based body, David Killion, saying that “granting the Palestinians full membership now in a specialised agency such as UNESCO is premature”. US Republican lawmaker Kay Granger, who chairs the key subcommittee that disburses US monies for diplomatic purposes said in a statement that she “will advocate for all funding to be cut off”, if UNESCO accepted the Palestinians in as a state. (AFP

Bahrain Medical Personnel Convicted for Treating Injured Protesters Will Receive a New Trial

Remember last week when a score of doctors and nurses in Bahrain were given lengthy prison sentences for treating protesters injured in the uprising? Well, it seems that at least someone in the Bahraini government has the good sense to re-think the whole thing. “Bahrain’s attorney general has ordered a civilian court retrial for 20 medical personnel sentenced to long prison terms as alleged backers of anti-government protests. A statement released on Wednesday by Bahrain’s government appeared to nullify the verdicts issued earlier this week by a special security court against the doctors and nurses, who received sentences ranging from five to 15 years. Lawyers for the Bahraini medics earlier denounced the convictions, saying they had found that ‘the most essential elements for a fair trial were not available in this trial’. According to the lawyers, the medics were tried in a military court, despite being civilians. ‘Despite the cessation of the state of emergency, the military trial continued for the medics, which was in breach of their constitutional rights which states that they must be tried in a civilian court as opposed to a military court.’” (Al Jazeera