United States and Israel to withdraw from Unesco

Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization logo is at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris France

Irina Bokova, UNESCO's outgoing director-general, said she "deeply regrets" the decision and is convinced that "UNESC has never been so important for the U.S., or the U.S. for UNESCO" given the rise of what she called violent extremism and terrorism in the world.

The UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák is also "concerned that the decision by the United States to withdraw could have adverse impacts upon the important work of UNESCO", according to a statement from his spokesperson. President Ronald Regan pulled the country from Unesco in 1984, claiming the body was biased in favour of the Soviet Union.

That has clearly failed, as evidenced by its continued push to remove all Jewish references to religious sites in the Holy Lands.

The AP quotes a State Department source.

Haley called the decision to classify the Tomb of the Patriarchs as a UNESCO World Heritage Site "just the latest in a long line of foolish actions, which includes keeping Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad on a UNESCO human rights committee even after his murderous crackdown on peaceful protestors".

Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization popularly known for its designation of world heritage sites, is a global development agency with missions that include promoting sex education, literacy, clean water and equality for women.

The decision will come into force on December 31, 2018.

And previous year, 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.

The organisation, which employs around 2,000 people worldwide, majority based in Paris, has always been the object of criticism over its use of resources and resolutions that have been perceived by Israel and other countries as biased.

Analysts said that actually withdrawing from the organization was a significant escalation by the United States in its criticism of United Nations bodies.

UNESCO is in the process of selecting a new chief, whose priority will be to revive its fortunes.

The U.S. rejoined UNESCO during President George W. Bush's first term.

But President Donald Trump's administration is also reviewing many of its multilateral commitments, pursuing what he calls an "America First" policy that has allies in Europe anxious.

One of UNESCO's founding nations, the United States has had a rocky relationship with the Paris-based organization over the years.

"In recent years, they've been of no use for this organisation", Eleanora Mitrofanova said. "They made a decision to exit - this is absolutely in line with Trump's general logic today". Other members of the council said his withdrawal would help to pool votes for the remaining candidates, which would mean fewer chances for more tied results as witnessed in the previous two rounds.



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