State Department Tells 28 Senators To Go Pound Sand

The U. S. State Department replied this week to the 18th April letter to Secretary John Kerry from 28 Senators that pointed out that Palestine was recognized as a full member of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as of 17th March and therefore the United States must stop all funding of the UNFCCC as required by laws enacted in 1994 and 1990.  State’s snotty response to the Senators can be summarized thus: Go pound sand.

Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Julia Frifield wrote to Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.):

“It is our view that neither the restriction referenced in your letter, section 410 of Public Law 103-236, nor the restriction contained in section 414 of Public Law 101-246, have been triggered by the Palestinians’ purported accession to the UNFCCC.  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.”

Frifield makes two points.  First, by calling the membership of Palestine in the UNFCCC “purported,” she seems to be implying that it really isn’t so.  This is preposterous.  The UNFCCC issued a press release titled, “State of Palestine Joins UNFCCC.”  And the Palestinian delegation issued a press release that they have signed the Paris Climate Treaty, which is a part of the UNFCCC.

Second, Frifield’s letter claims that the UNFCCC is not a specialized agency of the UN, but rather merely a treaty.  Public Law 103-236 does not refer to specialized agencies.  Instead, it states that, “The United States shall not make any voluntary or assessed contribution to any affiliated organization of the United Nations which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.”  The Obama Administration has stated several times that Palestine does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.

Is the UNFCCC merely a UN treaty and not also a UN affiliated organization?  The UNFCCC has all the attributes of an affiliated organization—an executive, a large staff, and a $60 million annual budget—and its subsidiary, the Green Climate Fund, was created to distribute $100 billion a year in climate aid starting in 2020. 

Senator Barrasso called the State Department’s reply “intentionally misleading,” and said that, “This administration is unwilling to follow the law.”   Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), on the other hand, said (as quoted in a Climate Wire story by Jean Chemnick): “I would be surprised if there are people who are such staunch supporters of Israel that they would take down a worldwide climate agreement over Palestinian participation in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.”  In other words, the law doesn’t matter when it comes to saving the planet from potential global warming.

Brett Schaefer and Steven Groves of the Heritage Foundation go into more detail in their 26th April piece on the Daily Signal.