Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he has ordered Israeli diplomats to prepare Israel’s withdrawal from UNESCO in concert with the USA. Netanyahu said Israel plans to pull out of the United Nations’ cultural agency following the “brave and moral” decision by the United States to withdraw from UNESCO.
Netanyahu said UNESCO has become a “theater of the absurd because instead of preserving history, it distorts it.”
The United States announced on Thursday that it is pulling out of UNESCO because of what the Trump administration sees as its anti-Israel bias and a need for “fundamental reform.” It says the withdrawal will take effect Dec. 31, 2018.
The United Nation’s education, cultural and scientific agency has passed several resolutions against Israel. It extended membership to Palestine in 2011.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says the “extreme politicization” of UNESCO — the U.N.’s cultural, education and scientific agency — has become “a chronic embarrassment.”
Nikki Haley called the agency’s designation of Hebron’s Old City and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as Palestinian territory the latest of many “foolish actions” that led to the United States’ decision to pull out of UNESCO.
Haley says the U.S.’s view from 1984 when President Ronald Reagan also withdrew from UNESCO holds true today: “U.S. taxpayers should no longer be on the hook to pay for policies that are hostile to our values and make a mockery of justice and common sense.”
She said: “The United States will continue to evaluate all agencies within the United Nations system through the same lens.”
In addition to the actions in Hebron, Haley singled out “keeping Syrian dictator Bashar Assad on a UNESCO human rights committee even after his murderous crackdown on peaceful protesters.”
Israel’s U.N. ambassador called the United States’ withdrawal from UNESCO “a turning point.”
Danny Danon said in a statement that the United Nation’s education, cultural and scientific agency now knows that its “absurd and shameful resolutions against Israel have consequences.”
Danon said: “Today is a new day at the U.N., where there is a price to pay for discrimination against Israel.”
The United States announced Thursday that it is pulling out of UNESCO because of what the Trump administration sees as its anti-Israel bias and a need for “fundamental reform.”
Danon praised the U.S. decision. He says: “The United States stands by Israel and is a true leader for change at the U.N.”
Danon added: “The alliance between our two countries is stronger than ever.”
UNESCO extended membership to Palestine in 2011.
Danon said: “UNESCO has become a battlefield for Israel-bashing and has disregarded its true role and purpose.”
The decision by the United States to exit the United Nations’ cultural agency is rattling other countries who say the move will harm the struggling UNESCO.
France’s ambassador to the U.N., Francois Delattre, said UNESCO’s ideals are “part of America’s DNA” and that “we need an America that stays committed to world affairs.”
Tatiana Dovgalenko, Russia’s deputy permanent representative to the agency, told reporters that the departure of “one of the countries that founded the U.N. system” is “a shock and a pity.”
However, Dovgalenko insists there won’t be a power vacuum.
She said: “Countries like us and China have our influence already.”
Washington says it is withdrawing because of what it sees as anti-Israel bias in UNESCO resolutions and the agency’s need for reform.
Allege “Anti-Israel” Bias: Trump Pulls A Reagan, Pulls USA Out Of UNESCO
Washington, D.C., USA: In a statement, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said today, thursday, that the US would be pulling out of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) by the end of the year 2018, accusing it of “anti-Israel” bias.
Nauert said, “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 it plans to “remain engaged” with the organisation as a non-member.
The Department said it would establish an observer mission at the Paris-based organisation to replace its representation.
The State Department said it notified UNESCO director Irina Bokova on Thursday of the decision.
UNESCO said the withdrawal was a loss to the “UN family” and to multilateralism.
The director of UNESCO expressed “profound regret” at the U.S. government’s decision to pull out of the U.N. cultural agency because of what’s seen as longstanding anti-Israel bias.
Director-general Irina Bokova said in a statement that the departure is a loss for “the United Nations family” and for multilateralism. She said the U.S. and UNESCO matter to each other more than ever now because “the rise of violent extremism and terrorism calls for new long-term responses for peace and security.”
A native of Bulgaria, Bokova defended UNESCO’s reputation, noting its efforts to support Holocaust education and train teachers to fight anti-Semitism. She traced the decades-long U.S. ties with UNESCO, and noted that the Statue of Liberty is among the many World Heritage sites protected by the U.N. agency.
Bokova’s two terms as director have been deeply scarred by the 2011 UNESCO vote to include Palestine as a member, funding troubles and repeated resolutions seen as anti-Israel.
The agency is known for designating world heritage sites such as Syria’s Palmyra and the US Grand Canyon.
This isn’t the first time the US has pulled out of UNESCO. Former President Ronald Reagan withdrew the US from the organisation in 1984, and former President George W. Bush rejoined the cultural group in 2002.
Under President Reagan, The United States formally announced on December 29th 1983,that it intended to withdraw from Unesco in a year’s time (December 31, 1984). But at the same time, it said that it would strengthen its participation in the United Nations and other international agencies. The decision to withdraw from Unesco, Gregory J. Newell, the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations under President Reagan, said at a news conference, was made only after UNESCO refused to adjust its policies to meet American and other Western complaints.
The circumstances of the exit under Reagan versus under Trump are clearly different.
Gregory J. Newell, the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations under President Reagan gave these examples of American concerns:
The time and resources earmarked for projects that the United States does not believe should be dealt with by Unesco, such as spending $750,000 in discussing Soviet-inspired disarmament proposals.
The ”collectivist” trends in the group, which, Mr. Newell said, promotes ”group rights” at the expense of individual human rights.
Efforts to promote the licensing of foreign reporters and the setting up of a ”new world information order.”
What he said was the excessive attention given the so-called New International Economic Order, in which wealthy countries are supposed to tranfer resources to the poorer ones.
Unesco’s request for a budget increase of nearly 10 percent while other United Nations agencies were abiding by requests to keep their budgets at near zero growth, The budget for Unesco is about $200 million yearly, with the United States contributing a fourth.
Mr. Gregory J. Newel said that in addition to Unesco, the United States had specific problems with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Labor Organization, the United Nations environmental program and the International Telecommunications Union. But he said the agencies had altered their policies, some of them political, and others budgetary, to Washington’s satisfaction.
The United States suspended its UNESCO funding in 2011 over its vote to include Palestine as a member, and now owes about $550 million in back payments.
While the U.S. stopped funding UNESCO after it voted to include Palestine as a member in 2011, the State Department has maintained a UNESCO office at its Paris headquarters and sought to weigh in on policy behind the scenes. The withdrawal was confirmed Thursday by U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to be publicly named discussing the decision. It was not clear when the move would be formally announced.