The US Is Leaving UNESCO - Again

Rachel Hardy
October 13, 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.

The State Department briefly outlined its reasoning in a press release: "This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects USA concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO".

The latest withdrawal takes effect December 31, 2018.

She said: "The United States will continue to evaluate all agencies within the United Nations system through the same lens".

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.

The text denounced "all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem".

Yet, the US State Department announced today (Oct. 12) that the United States would withdraw from UNESCO membership.

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

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The U.S. stopped funding UNESCO after it voted to include Palestine as a member state in 2011, but the State Department has maintained a UNESCO office and sought to weigh in on policy behind the scenes.

Washington has also protested against UNESCO's decision to grant full membership to Palestine, deciding to suspend regular payments to the organization in 2011.

Israel says it will join the United States in pulling out of the UN's cultural organisation after United States officials cited "anti-Israel bias".

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

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. "The organisation's absurd and shameful resolutions against Israel have consequences". "Ideally, it steers it in way that USA interests and UNESCO's mandate will converge".

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.

According to economist Jeffrey David Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the decision was made "because UNESCO promotes science, education, culture".

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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