Britain stresses Unesco commitment after U.S. withdraws over Israel bias

Esther Moore
October 13, 2017

The United States announced on Thursday that it is pulling out of UNESCO because of what the Trump administration sees as its anti-Israel bias and a need for "fundamental reform".

The withdraw becomes official on December 31, 2018, after which the United States will remain involved as a nonmember observer state.

United States pulls out of the UN's culture and education body.

The Trump administration and Israel have voiced concern over a series of Unesco decisions, including the listing of the city of Hebron as a Palestinian world heritage site.

And previous year, Israel suspended cooperation with it after the agency adopted a controversial resolution which made no reference to Jewish ties to a key holy site in Jerusalem.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova responded to the move in a lengthy statement, describing it as "a loss for multilateralism".

"The objective of UNESCO is a good one", US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a statement.

The US has long used UNESCO as a stage for political gestures: In 1984, the Ronald Reagan withdrew the US from UNESCO, accusing it of being pro-Soviet, anti-Israel, and anti-free market.

Tensions have flared again in recent years: in 2011, the United States stopped funding the agency after UNESCO voted to admit the Palestinian Authority as a full member; two years later, the U.S. lost its vote due to these financial cuts.

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Nauert said the state department had notified Bokova of their decision earlier on Thursday.

USA officials said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the decision and it was not discussed with other countries.

UNESCO's executive board plans to select her successor Friday in a secret ballot.

The United Nation's education, cultural and scientific agency has passed several resolutions against Israel.

Trump pulled U.S. out of UNESCO.

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.

United States quits Unesco over "anti-Israel bias" Trump quits because UNESCO promotes science, education, culture. "The organisation's absurd and shameful resolutions against Israel have consequences".

Mr Netanyahu condemned the agency this year for declaring the old city of Hebron in the West Bank a Palestinian World Heritage site.

"At the time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack".

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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