US Announces Withdrawal from UNESCO, Accusing UN Agency of "Anti-Israel" Bias

Rosalie Stanley
October 13, 2017

Nikki Haley, the U.N. ambassador, has repeatedly criticized the United Nations for what she called its anti-Israel bias.

"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.

The outgoing head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, called the U.S. withdrawal a "loss to multilateralism", while UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said through a spokesman that he "regrets this development deeply".

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.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave formal notification of the U.S. withdrawal on the grounds of "continuing anti-Israel bias" and "mounting arrears".

As a permanent observer to the organization, the United States would still be able to voice its opinion about matters to the body, but not vote on issues as a member.

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

While the Trump administration had been preparing for a likely withdrawal from UNESCO for months, the timing of the State Department's statement Thursday was unexpected.

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The U.S. will withdraw on December 31, 2018, but will remain active in the group as a nonmember observer.

The US withdrawal was also motivated by a desire to stop accruing arrears to the agency, Foreign Policy magazine reported.

Many saw the 2011 UNESCO vote to include Palestine as evidence of long-running, ingrained anti-Israel bias within the United Nations, where Israel and its allies are far outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters. Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley has repeatedly denounced these actions, and said the USA was "evaluating" whether or not it should continue as a member of the organization.

And past 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. It extended membership to Palestine in 2011.

Trump pulled United States out of UNESCO.

In July, the agency again delighted Palestinians when its members declared the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank an endangered World Heritage site - described as "another delusional decision" by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

UNESCO is responsible for coordinating global cooperation in education, science, culture and communication.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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