U.S. withdraws from UNESCO

U.S. withdraws from UNESCO

U.S. withdraws from UNESCO

The State Department announced today that the United States will withdraw from UNESCO, citing "continuing anti-Israel bias" at the United Nation's cultural, educational, and science organization as well as its "need for fundamental reform" and "mounting arrears".

A press statement from the State Department says the decision was also based on "the need for fundamental reform in the organization" as well as stacking up bills the US owes UNESCO.

The US withdrawal will become effective at the end of December 2018 - until then it would will remain a full member.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, also praised Washington's move as heralding "a new day at the U.N., where there is a price to pay for discrimination against Israel".

The agency is known for designating world heritage sites such as Syria's Palmyra and the US Grand Canyon. Israel has accused UNESCO of making a politically motivated move, part of what it says is an attempt to deny the Jewish character and heritage of certain key sites in the Holy Land.

She said the U.S. and Unesco matter to each other more than ever now because "the rise of violent extremism and terrorism calls for new long-term responses for peace and security".

In a statement, Bokova said that "despite the withholding of funding, since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful".

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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.

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.

The Israel controversy re-ignited this summer after UNESCO named Hebron's city center a Palestinian World Heritage Site.

She said the US pulling out is a loss for the United Nations and for worldwide alliances.

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

The decision follows a string of UNESCO decisions that have drawn criticism from the USA and 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.

The agency also works to improve education for girls in desperately poor countries and in scientific fields, to promote better understanding of the horrors of the Holocaust and to defend media freedom, among other activities.

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