United States and Israel to withdraw from Unesco

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington Wednesday

VN exits race for UNESCO chief position

Britain has confirmed its continued commitment to membership of Unesco after the USA announced it was withdrawing from the United Nations cultural body. In addition to anti-Israel bias, the department cited "the need for fundamental reform" and "mounting arrears" at the organization.

The United States will remain a member, however, until the withdrawal takes effect on December 31, 2018.

She said: "The United States will continue to evaluate all agencies within the United Nations system through the same lens". It's best known for its World Heritage list.

And a year ago, 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.

Unesco said the withdrawal was a loss to the "UN family" and to multilateralism.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel plans to pull out of the United Nations' cultural agency following the "brave and moral" decision by the United States to withdraw from UNESCO. The U.S. stopped making payments to the agency in 2011, but maintained an office at its Paris headquarters in the hopes of encouraging a change of course from behind the scenes.

The US stopped paying dues to the worldwide body in late 2011 after the agency voted to accept a Palestinian bid for full membership and now owes approximately $550 million, a State Department spokesperson said. The department also voiced concerns about an anti-Israel bias at UNESCO. 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.

Behind them in the secret ballot was an Egyptian career diplomat, Moushira Khattab, with 13 votes, and Tang Qian of China with five, according to results posted on Unesco's website. After he was elected but before he became president, Mr. Trump made an extraordinary intervention on the world stage by criticizing the Obama administration's decision not to block a United Nations resolution criticizing Israeli settlements. "Ideally, it steers it in way that US interests and UNESCO's mandate will converge". "The organisation's absurd and shameful resolutions against Israel have consequences".

In July, the agency again delighted Palestinians when it declared the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank an endangered World Heritage site.

She also mentioned a long history of joint endeavours, including working together with the late Samuel Pisar, Honorary Ambassador and Special Envoy for Holocaust Education, to promote education for remembrance of the Holocaust across the world to fight antisemitism and genocide on Thursday; cooperating with major US companies Microsoft, Cisco, Procter & Gamble and Intel to keep girls in school and nurture technologies for quality learning; and working with the US Geological Survey, US Army Corps of Engineers, and US professional societies to advance research for the sustainable management of water resources, agriculture.

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