US, Is­rael with­draw from UNESCO

Iran Daily - - Front Page -

The United States and its ally Is­rael said Thurs­day they were pulling out of the UN’S cul­ture and ed­u­ca­tional body, in a move that un­der­lined Wash­ing­ton’s drift away from in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

The US de­ci­sion, an­nounced in Wash­ing­ton, fol­lows years of ten­sion at UNESCO, which it ac­cused of hav­ing an “anti-is­rael bias.”

The United States has walked out of the 195-mem­ber or­ga­ni­za­tion once be­fore, un­der ex-pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan, who quit in 1984 over al­leged fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment and claims of anti-us bias in some of its poli­cies, AFP wrote.

Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush an­nounced Amer­ica’s re­turn in 2002, but re­la­tions soured again in 2011, when Barack Obama pulled the plug on fund­ing to the body af­ter its mem­bers voted to ad­mit Pales­tine as a full mem­ber.

Wash­ing­ton op­poses any move by UN bod­ies to rec­og­nize the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries as a state, be­liev­ing this must await a ne­go­ti­ated Mid­dle East peace deal.

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 wor­ried. “UNESCO is about pro­mot­ing our ideals and val­ues through cul­ture, ed­u­ca­tion and science,” France’s UN Am­bas­sador Fran­cois De­lat­tre told re­porters in New York, adding that “we need an Amer­ica that stays com­mit­ted to world af­fairs.”

But US State De­part­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert said that the cost to the United States of re­main­ing a mem­ber had also in­flu­enced the de­ci­sion.

In a state­ment an­nounc­ing its own with­drawal, Is­rael called the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion “coura­geous and moral,” ac­cus­ing the UN body of be­com­ing a “theater of the ab­surd” af­ter a se­ries of res­o­lu­tions con­demn­ing the Jewish state. The out­go­ing head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, called the US with­drawal a “loss to mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism,” while UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res said through a spokesman that he “re­grets this de­vel­op­ment deeply.”

Rus­sia’s For­eign Min­istry also said it “re­gret­ted” Wash­ing­ton’s de­ci­sion.

Such a move would anger in­de­pen­dence sup­port­ers in the north­east­ern re­gion and could cause ten­sions to boil over into un­rest.

But any de­ci­sion by Puigde­mont to back down would also in­fu­ri­ate hun­dreds of thou­sands of Cata­lans who voted to break away from Spain in a banned ref­er­en­dum.

On the other hand, Cat­alo­nia is deeply di­vided over in­de­pen­dence, and those who want to stay in Spain are in­creas­ingly mak­ing their voices heard, from Spain in a vote marred by po­lice vi­o­lence.

Turnout was 43 per­cent, they say, but the fig­ures are im­pos­si­ble to ver­ify as the ref­er­en­dum was not held ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial elec­toral stan­dards, with no in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion to over­see the vote.

Puigde­mont had pledged to de­clare in­de­pen­dence if the “yes” vote won, but on Tues­day he gave an am­bigu­ous state­ment.

Say­ing he ac­cepted a man­date for “Cat­alo­nia to be­come

Apart from the CUP’S open let­ter, the Cata­lan Na­tional As­sem­bly, an in­flu­en­tial pro-in­de­pen­dence as­so­ci­a­tion whose fol­low­ers are ready to take to the streets, called on him to lift his sus­pen­sion of the in­de­pen­dence dec­la­ra­tion.

In a state­ment late Thurs­day, it said it made no sense to main­tain the sus­pen­sion “given Spain’s re­jec­tion of di­a­logue,” adding it did not rule out more re­gion-wide strikes like the one that hit Cat­alo­nia on Oc­to­ber 3rd.

AP

AFP

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