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U.S. withdraws from UNESCO over 'anti-Israel bias'
13 October 2017, 12:29 | Floyd Cook
US withdraws from UNESCO
The US withdrawal will become effective at the end of December 2018 - until then it would will remain a full member.
And senior Trump administration officials - including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley - have been critical of the organization.
Mr Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel will also withdraw from the agency, which had become a "theatre of the absurd because instead of preserving history, it distorts it".
Heather Nauert, US state department spokesperson, said on Thursday the US would establish an "observer mission" to replace its representation at the Paris-based agency. In addition to anti-Israel bias, the department cited "the need for fundamental reform" and "mounting arrears" at the organization. It's best known for its World Heritage list.
USA quits Unesco over "anti-Israel bias" Trump quits because UNESCO promotes science, education, culture.
"UNESCO is about promoting our ideals and values through culture, education and science", France's United Nations ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters in NY, adding that "we need an America that stays committed to world affairs".
UNESCO, which is best known for producing the list of World Heritage sites that includes the Grand Canyon and other United States attractions, has been the scene of diplomatic flare-ups in recent years after Arab countries succeeded in passing a number of resolutions critical of Israel.
The country plans to become "a non-member observer state in order to contribute USA views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education".
A statement released by the PM's office said that Netanyahu had instructed the Foreign Ministry to prepare Israel's withdrawal from UNESCO.
Israel has accused UNESCO of making a politically motivated move, part of what it says is an attempt to deny the Jewish character and heritage of certain key sites in the Holy Land.
"It's a loss to UNESCO, it's a loss to the family of the United Nations and it's a loss to multilateralism", Bokova said in a statement.
The outgoing head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, called the United States withdrawal a "loss to multilateralism", while UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said through a spokesman that he "regrets this development deeply".
It's not the first time the USA has pulled out of UNESCO: Washington did the same thing in the 1980s because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests.
UNESCO is a specialized agency in the United Nations that encourages worldwide peace and security through education, science, culture and communication. The US only rejoined under the administration of President George W. Bush some two decades later.
Former president Ronald Reagan quit the organization altogether in the 1980's.
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