Trump pulls U.S. out of UNESCO, citing anti-Israel bias

VN exits race for UNESCO chief position

A statement released by the PM's office said that Netanyahu had instructed the Foreign Ministry to prepare Israel's withdrawal from UNESCO.

Commenting on the move, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed it as "a fearless and moral decision".

Mr Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel will also withdraw from the agency, which had become a "theatre of the absurd because instead of preserving history, it distorts it".

In 2011, the United States stopped funding Unesco due to what was then a forgotten, 15-year-old amendment mandating a complete cutoff of American financing to any United Nations agency that accepts Palestine as a full member.

"I wish to express profound regret at the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from UNESCO", Bokova said in a statement. "Unfortunately, its extreme politicization has become a chronic embarrassment". It referred to the holy site only using Muslim names and prompted angry reactions from Israeli politicians.

In recent years, Israel has repeatedly complained about what it says is the body taking sides in disputes over cultural heritage sites in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

"We will be carefully watching how the organization and the new director general steers the agency", Hegadorn said.


Travelers are likely to be most familiar with Unesco through its world heritage sites such as the Grand Canyon National Park and Yellowstone National Park in the US.

It was founded in 1945 as allied countries "were looking for ways and means to reconstruct their systems of education once peace was restored" in the wake of World War II, according to the organization - which now has 195 members and eight associate members.

UNESCO was established after World War II to help promote the free flow of information.

"Universality is critical to UNESCO's mission to strengthen global peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity", she said in a statement.

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. "This is a loss for multilateralism". "It's not just about money, it's promoting ideals that are vital to countries like the United States, such as education and culture", a UNESCO-based diplomat said. "Together, we have worked to protect humanity's shared cultural heritage in the face of terrorist attacks and to prevent violent extremism through education and media literacy".

UNESCO, officially the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is known mainly for naming and overseeing World Heritage Sites, a list that includes over 1,000 protected natural and built environments of great importance to humanity.

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