Israel quits Unesco over ‘distortions’
ISRAEL has withdrawn from Unesco following America’s decision to leave the United Nations body.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the US move: “This is a brave and moral decision because Unesco has become a theatre of absurd. Instead of preserving history, it distorts it.”
The PM said he had instructed the Israeli Foreign Ministry to prepare the country’s withdrawal in parallel with the US.
Hours earlier the US State Department announced it would withdraw from Unesco and become a non-member observer state by the end of next year.
The State Department criticised Unesco for its “continuing anti-Israel bias” and spoke of a need for “fundamental reform”.
Israeli officials had previously condemned Unesco for passing resolutions they claimed would erase historical Jewish ties to Israel.
One such resolution criticised Israel’s activities at holy places in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and made no mention of Jewish ties to a holy site in the area.
Mr Netanyahu suspended co-operation with the agency and announced a $1 million cut to Israel’s UN payments in response. The US suspended its funding to Unesco in 2011, after Palestine was admitted as a member.
The decision will not affect existing Unesco World Heritage Sites in the US or Israel, or prevent them from submitting sites for consideration in the future.