US, Is­rael to exit UNESCO over al­leged anti-Is­rael bias

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NATION+WORLD -

PARIS » The United States said Thurs­day that it is pulling out of UNESCO — the U.N. Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion — be­cause of what Wash­ing­ton sees as its an­tiIs­rael 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 Thurs­day was un­ex­pected. The Paris-based agency is in the midst of a heated elec­tion to choose a new chief — with Qatar’s Ha­mad bin Ab­du­laziz al-Kawari in the lead as the Ex­ec­u­tive Board vote heads into a fi­nal bal­lot to­day.

The out­go­ing UNESCO direc­torgen­eral, Irina Bokova, ex­pressed her “pro­found re­gret” at the U.S. de­ci­sion and tried to de­fend the rep­u­ta­tion of the agency, best known for its World Her­itage pro­gram to pro­tect cul­tural sites and tra­di­tions.

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