State Department Withdraws From UN Cultural Group Over 'Anti-Israel' Bias

Peace out

Peace out

Despite the withdrawal, the USA still hopes to remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state "in order to contribute US views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization". This notice will take effect on 31 December, 2018.

The United States is leaving UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, which preserves world heritage sites and customs and works to insure the free flow of information and ideas. Since then, the US has maintained a presence at UNESCO and lobbied behind the scenes.

The US decision, which was followed by Israel, came after UNESCO voted last week in favor of two Palestinian resolutions on Jerusalem and education.

In the statement, Netanyahu hailed the USA move as a courageous and moral decision. The country rejoined in 2002 under the George W. Bush administration as part of efforts to promote worldwide cooperation.

This is not the first time that the U.S. has withdrawn from UNESCO. To protest the vote, both Israel and the USA stopped their funding to the organization and in 2014 lost their voting rights.

Nauert said the State Department had notified UNESCO's outgoing Director-General Irina Bokova of their decision earlier Thursday.

She said that UNESCO needs the leadership of all states "at the time when the fight against violent extremism calls for renewed investment in education, in dialogue among cultures to prevent hatred". "There are several candidates, and the timing for such announcements was clearly not accidental, as many believe that the United States, having shown such disregard for the organization, thus attempted to show influence on the outcome of the vote", the Russian official said. Currently, the United States owes over 500 million US dollars to the organization.

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As for the broader impact, Gupta said, the already-diminishing respect for the United States in the community of nations will diminish even further.

Israel and its supporters are therefore not particularly pleased whenever countries do things that suggest that Palestine is a sovereign state.

Over the summer, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee declared the Cave of the Patriarchs and Hebron's Old City as endangered Palestinian sites.

In 2012, the United States was peeved at a decision not to expel Syria from UNESCO's human rights committee after the civil war began.

In 2011, UNESCO welcomed Palestine as its 195th member, The New York Times reported at the time, and the US effectively stopped making payments - which were about $70 million a year - to the organization.

Avery Goldstein, David M. Knott Professor of Global Politics and International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania, said the decision of withdrawal continues a trend in US policy towards UNESCO put in place under former US President Barack Obama.

But the U.S. and Israel still retain other privileges as member states, which they will lose should they leave the organization.

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