US and Israel united in leaving Unesco
The United States is pulling out of Unesco after repeated criticism of resolutions by the UN cultural agency that Washington sees as antiIsrael.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel plans to follow suit.
While the US stopped funding Unesco after it voted to include Palestine as a member in 2011, the state department has maintained a Unesco office at its Paris headquarters and sought to weigh in on policy behind the scenes.
The withdrawal was confirmed yesterday by US officials.
Unesco director-general Irina Bokova, who is Bulgarian, expressed “profound regret” at the
”A loss for the United Nations family and for multilateralism”
decision and said the departure was a loss for “the United Nations family” and for multilateralism.
She said the US and Unesco matter to each other more than ever now because “the rise of violent extremism and terrorism calls for new long-term responses for peace and security”.
Ms Bokova defended Unesco’s reputation, noting its efforts to support Holocaust education and train teachers to fight anti-Semitism.
She traced the decades-long US ties with Unesco, and noted that the Statue of Liberty is among the many World Heritage sites protected by the UN agency.
Mr Netanyahu said yesterday that Israel will also withdraw from the agency, which had become a “theatre of the absurd because instead of preserving history, it distorts it”.
He said he has ordered Israeli diplomats to prepare Israel’s withdrawal from the organisation in concert with the Americans.