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The United States Now Plans to Leave UNESCO

The United States Now Plans to Leave UNESCO”

"This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects USA concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organisation, and continuing anti-Israel bias", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Under UNESCO rules, the USA withdrawal will become effective as of the end of December 2018.

The US move underscores the scepticism expressed by President Donald Trump about the need for the United States to remain engaged in multi-lateral bodies.

Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel also plans to withdraw from the agency, saying it had become a "theater of the absurd because instead of preserving history, it distorts it".

Washington's withdrawal is set to take effect on December 21, 2018, when it will establish an "observer mission" to replace its representation at the agency.

Earlier this year, UNESCO triggered Israel's anger after it listed Hebron, a city in the occupied West Bank, as a world heritage site in the "State of Palestine".

"We deeply regret that the United States chose to leave UNESCO", the communique said.

"This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO", she added.

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Behind them in the secret ballot was an Egyptian career diplomat, Moushira Khattab, with 13 votes, and Tang Qian of China with five, according to results posted on Unesco's website.

Unesco is best known for its World Heritage programme to protect cultural sites and traditions around the world.

The US stopped paying dues to the global body in late 2011 after the agency voted to accept a Palestinian bid for full membership and now owes approximately $550 million, a State Department spokesperson said.

In October, Israel suspended its co-operation over a draft resolution referring to the Old City of Jerusalem as part of "the cultural heritage of Palestine".

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 said the withdrawal was a loss to the "UN family" and to multilateralism. After he was elected but before he became president, Mr. Trump made an extraordinary intervention on the world stage by criticizing the Obama administration's decision not to block a United Nations resolution criticizing Israeli settlements.

"At the time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack", she said. In 2002, George W Bush joined UNESCO again, and in 2011, Barack Obama cut most United States funding to UNESCO due to the organization's recognition of Palestine. But, in 1984, then-President Ronald Reagan withdrew the country from the organization, citing corruption.



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