United States and Israel to withdraw from Unesco

Oct 13, 2017, 00:27
United States and Israel to withdraw from Unesco

As well as accusing UNESCO of bias, the U.S. state department said it was also concerned about mounting financial arrears at the agency and said it should be reformed.

It says the withdrawal will take effect December 31, 2018.

As part of the decision, the United States notified UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of the intent to withdraw and become a permanent observer of the body instead. The department also voiced concerns about an anti-Israel bias at UNESCO. This past July, UNESCO's decision to recognize the ancient city of Hebron (aka al-Khalīl), located in the West Bank, as a Palestinian World Heritage site drew sharp criticism from the Trump administration, particularly from Nikki Haley.

The United States said Thursday that it was pulling out of the UN's culture and education body, accusing it of "anti-Israel bias" in a move criticised by the head of the Paris-based organisation.

Today the Trump administration announced the United States will leave UNESCO, the United Nations development agency, over the organization's alleged "anti-Israel bias".

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At the time, Netanyahu said the "absurd" vote denied the Jewish connection to the city.

Just hours after that vote, the US chose to cut its payments to UNESCO, while still maintaining its membership.

UNESCO, which is best known for producing the list of World Heritage sites that includes the Grand Canyon and other USA attractions, has been the scene of diplomatic flare-ups in recent years after Arab countries succeeded in passing a number of resolutions critical of Israel.

She paid tribute to what she said had been a meaningful relationship between UNESCO and the USA, saying: "since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful".

In 2011 the United States cut its funding to the agency - slashing its budget by 22 percent - in protest at its decision to grant full membership to the Palestine.

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The Trump administration has announced that the US will withdraw from UNESCO, the United Nations' chief cultural and educational agency.

He said he has ordered Israeli diplomats to prepare Israel's withdrawal from the organisation in concert with the Americans.

The lack of staffing and funding plans for Unesco by the U.S. have been accompanied by repeated denunciations of Unesco by senior USA officials, including U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. She called Washington's step a "loss to multilateralism".

The U.S. rejoined UNESCO during President George W. Bush's first term.

The U.S. told Bokova it intends to stay engaged as a non-member "observer state" on "non-politicized" issues, including the protection of World Heritage sites, advocating for press freedoms and promoting scientific collaboration and education.

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Hegadorn said the USA would remain a force at the cultural agency in the same way as it was from 1984, when the country withdrew under then-President Ronald Reagan.

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