US to withdraw from Unesco amid claims of anti-israel bias
THE United States is to withdraw from Unesco, the United Nations cultural agency which Washington has accused of being anti-israel. And Israel last night followed suit, announcing that it too would quit the 195-nation body.
“US taxpayers should no longer be on the hook to pay for policies that are hostile to our values and make a mockery of justice and common sense,” said Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the UN.
“The purpose of Unesco is a good one. Unfortunately, its extreme politicisation has become a chronic embarrassment.”
She said that the decision to designate the Old City of Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as part of Palestinian territory was “just the latest in a long line of foolish actions, which includes keeping Syrian dictator Bashar al-assad on a human rights committee”.
Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, informed the Paris-based cultural heritage agency of his decision yesterday morning. It is the second time the US has pulled out of the group. Ronald Reagan withdrew in 1984 in protest at a perceived Soviet bias, and George W Bush rejoined in 2002.
Heather Nauert, a spokesman for the state department, said the decision will take effect on Dec 31 next year and that after that point the US will maintain observer status.
Irina Bokova, the director-general of Unesco, said she was saddened by the move. “I wish to express profound regret at the decision of the United States to withdraw from Unesco,” she said.
The decision is seen as marking America’s further estrangement from an organisation that it helped establish after the Second World War.