Thursday, 12 October 2017

US pulls out of UNESCO over “anti-Israel bias”

The United States Thursday, announced that it is pulling out from the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), accusing the body of “anti-Israel bias.”

According to AFP, State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert said US would establish an “observer mission” to replace its representation at the Paris-based agency.

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

The move marks the US further estrangement from an organisation that it helped establish after World War II to widen access to education and ensure the free flow of ideas.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the decision several weeks ago, and told French President Emmanuel Macron Washington was considering leaving during a meeting with President Donald Trump in late September on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

The US has withdrawn from the organisation once before, during the Reagan administration. Former President Ronald Regan withdrew the country from Unesco in 1984, claiming it was biased in favour of the Soviet Union. President George W Bush rejoined the organisation in 2002. The US stopped funding Unesco in 2011, after the organisation accepted Palestine as a member.

Israel recalled its ambassador to Unesco last year. The organisation had recently adopted two resolutions that Israeli leaders said ignored Judaism’s connection with one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites. Israel's relationship with Unesco had long been rocky, after officials accused the body of making decisions out of political considerations.

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