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US quits UNESCO citing anti-Israel bias

October 12, 17:05 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

The United States has announced its intention to withdraw from the UN cultural agency and become a permanent observer instead

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© AP Photo/Francois Mori

WASHINGTON, October 12. /TASS/. The United States has decided to withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.

"On October 12, 2017, the Department of State notified UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the organization and to seek to establish a permanent observer mission to UNESCO," Nauert said.

The decision will take effect on December 31, 2018, and the US will remain a full member of the UN cultural organization until that time.

Nauert stressed "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."

The US showed its desire to "remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state." Washington plans to "contribute U.S. 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."

In December 2016, the Washington Post reported that US Congress considered the idea of withdrawing from such organizations as the UN and UNESCO after the Security Council passed a resolution calling on Israel to immediately halt its settlement activity on the occupied Palestinian territories.

In 2011, the US refused to take part in financing UNESCO after Palestine joined it as a full-fledged member. Later Israel followed suit. As a result, the international organization lost 22% of its financing.

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