BEIRUT: Lebanon's Hezbollah on Wednesday congratulated the Palestinians on winning UNESCO membership, slamming the United States as "racist" over its decision to vote against the move.
"Hezbollah congratulates the Palestinian people on gaining full UNESCO membership, which is their natural right," the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Shiite militant group said in a statement.
"The United States' decision to vote against this natural right... reflects its historic policy of racism... as well as its support for and identification with the Israeli enemy."
Palestinian membership in the UN's cultural arm, which comes as they seek to become a full United Nations member state, was approved Monday in Paris despite strong opposition from the United States and Israel.
Angry US officials said Washington was withdrawing its share of UNESCO funding, which amounts to almost a quarter of the cultural body's overall budget, and warned of a "cascade" effect should other UN bodies follow suit.
Hezbollah, blacklisted by the United States as a terrorist group, last fought a devastating war with its arch-foe Israel in 2006 which destroyed much of Lebanon's major infrastructure.
The month-long conflict killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mainly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mainly soldiers.
Lebanon and Israel remain technically in a state of war.