USA withdraws from UNESCO

UNESCO and Jerusalem

The Trump administration has announced that the US will withdraw from UNESCO, the United Nations' chief cultural and educational agency.

In the statement, Netanyahu hailed the United States move as a "courageous and moral decision".

"This is a fearless and moral decision", Netanyahu said in a statement, "because UNESCO has become a theatre of the absurd and because instead of preserving history, it distorts it".

"This decision was not taken lightly", according to a State Department statement on Thursday.

The United States announced its withdrawal from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Thursday, withthe State Department citing among other issues a "continuing anti-Israel bias", prompting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order the Foreign Ministry to prepare its own withdrawal and Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon to hail "a new era in the UN".

The US helped found Unesco in the wake of the Second World War, with the aim of ensuring peace through the free flow of ideas and education. The officials, who were not authorized to be publicly named discussing the issue, said the US was notably angry over UNESCO resolutions denying Jewish connections to holy sites and references to Israel as an occupying power.

"This is another example of the Trump's administration's profound ambivalence and concern about the way the U.N.is structured and behaves, and it shows the administration's determination to separate itself from its predecessors", said Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator and adviser in Republican and Democratic administrations. It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group.

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The withdrawals are a severe blow for the Paris-based organisation which began work in 1946 and is known for designating World Heritage sites such as the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and Sceilig Mhichíl in Co Kerry.

The US claims it's leaving the organization in protest of UNESCO's anti-Israel bias.

Nikki Haley, the U.N. ambassador, has repeatedly criticized the United Nations for what she called its anti-Israel bias.

Michael Worbs, chairman of the UNESCO Executive Board, appreciated the Vietnamese' notable jump in the second round. Israel would pull out on the same date as the U.S. It wasn't until 18 years later that it rejoined under the administration of George W. Bush.

That year the USA stopped paying into UNESCO but did not officially withdraw.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres expressed deep regret over the USA decision to leave UNESCO, according to Deputy UN Spokesperson Farhan Haq.

Earlier this year, UNESCO triggered Israel's anger after it listed Hebron, a city in the occupied West Bank, as a world heritage site in the "State of Palestine". "Ideally, it steers it in way that USA interests and UNESCO's mandate will converge".

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