U.S., Israel to exit UN agency
PARIS — The U.S. announced Thursday it is pulling out of the UN’s educational, scientific and cultural agency because of what Washington sees as its anti-Israel bias and a need for “fundamental reform” in the agency.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel plans to follow suit.
While the Trump administration had been preparing for a likely withdrawal from UNESCO for months, the timing of the State Department’s statement was unexpected. The Parisbased agency’s executive board is in the midst of choosing a new chief
— with Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari leading the heated election heading into Friday’s vote.
Outgoing DirectorGeneral Irina Bokova called the U.S.’s planned departure a loss for “the United Nations family” and for multilateralism. The U.S. and UNESCO matter to each other more than ever now with “the rise of violent extremism and terrorism,” she said.
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.
Netanyahu said the agency had become a
“theatre of the absurd.”