U.S., Israel set to leave UNESCO
PARIS — The United States announced Thursday it was pulling out of the U.N.’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 organization is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions, but also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust’s horrors and to defend media freedom.
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.
In a statement, the State Department said the decision will take effect Dec. 31, 2018.