Trump pulls US out of UNESCO, citing anti-Israel bias
13 October, 2017, 00:39
Israel says it will join the U.S. in pulling out of the UN's cultural organisation after USA officials cited "anti-Israel bias".
It will establish an observer mission at the Paris-based organisation to replace its representation, the state department said.
The head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, voiced "profound regret" over the decision, calling it a "loss to multilateralism".
UNESCO, which is best known for producing the list of World Heritage sites that includes the Grand Canyon and other United States 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. The decision "reflects US concerns with mounting arrears" at the United Nations entity, as well as what she called "continuing anti-Israel bias".
"The universal nature of UNESCO's activities is important in protecting peace and ensuring global security in the face of violence and hatred", Bokova said in her statement.
"The US relationship with Unesco is a matter for them".
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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"At the time when the fight against violent extremism calls for renewed investment in education, in dialogue among cultures to prevent hatred, it is deeply regrettable that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations agency leading these issues", Bokova said in the statement.
Haley says the U.S.'s view from 1984 when President Ronald Reagan also withdrew from UNESCO holds true today: "U.S. taxpayers should no longer be on the hook to pay for policies that are hostile to our values and make a mockery of justice and common sense".
In October, Israel suspended its co-operation over a draft resolution referring to the Old City of Jerusalem as part of "the cultural heritage of Palestine". 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.
The United Nation's education, cultural and scientific agency has passed several resolutions against Israel. 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.
Trump pulled USA out of UNESCO.
"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".
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