Britain stresses Unesco commitment after USA withdraws over Israel bias

VN exits race for UNESCO chief position
US withdraws from UNESCO

13 October, 2017

Citing in part its "anti-Israel bias" and otherwise complaining of costs, the Trump administration announced Thursday that the US will withdraw from UNESCO, the United Nations agency focused on education, science, and culture.

In a statement released Thursday, the State Department said the move won't take effect for more than a year, noting the withdrawal will be as of December 31, 2018.

The US withdrawal was also motivated by a desire to stop accruing arrears to the agency, Foreign Policy magazine reported. He said UNESCO had "turned into a theatre of the absurd; instead of preserving history, it twists it".

"I wish to express profound regret at the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from UNESCO", Bokova said in a statement, adding that the organization's relations with the United States were based on shared values.In her statement, Bokova said the US' cooperation with UNESCO is highly important as the world is facing rising terrorism, antisemitism, and violations of freedom.

In July, the United Nations body declared the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank an endangered World Heritage site, delighting Palestinians and infuriating Israel.

"Despite the withholding of funding, since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful", she underscored.

Israel accused UNESCO of denying the Jewish link to the Temple Mount, a historic site destroyed in 70 A.D. and is nowadays a Muslim holy site called the Noble Sanctuary.

UNESCO, which is best known for producing the list of World Heritage sites that includes the Grand Canyon and other U.S. 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.

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Washington has already withheld its funding for UNESCO since 2011, when the body admitted Palestine as a full member.

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".

But according to Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, the Trump administration found it to be a step too far when the agency decided this summer to designate "the Old City of Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as part of Palestinian territory".

Praising Trump's decision as "brave and moral", Netanyahu said he has ordered Israeli diplomats to prepare for Israel's withdrawal from the organization in concert with the Americans. "This is a loss for multilateralism".

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

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

Former president Ronald Reagan quit the organization altogether in the 1980's. It wasn't until 18 years later that it rejoined under the administration of George W. Bush.

UNESCO is a specialized agency in the United Nations that encourages worldwide peace and security through education, science, culture and communication.

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