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Israel may quit UNESCO only following US - Russian senator

October 15, 2017, 15:55 updated at: October 15, 2017, 16:12 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG

"I have heard from the Israeli counterparts that if the US continues to the end the process of quitting UNESCO, Israel would follow suit," Konstantin Kosachev said

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ST. PETERSBURG, October 15. /TASS/. Israel would not quit UNESCO on initiative, but only following the US, head of the international affairs committee at the Russian parliament’s upper house (Federation Council) Konstantin Kosachev told TASS on Sunday after a meeting with that country’s delegation at the assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

"We have asked the question (about the position on UNESCO - TASS), and the counterparts were trying to calm down our emotions, as we expressed concern about that decision of the US," he said.

"They said that was not a red, but only a yellow penalty card, if we use football terms, that the US has only warned UNESCO about a possible decision by the year-end, but now that UNESCO has new leaders there are chances to correct the earlier mistakes," the senator quoted his counterparts.

"But in my opinion, it was not a yellow card, it was rather blackmailing, to call it straightforwardly," he said.

"I have heard from the Israeli counterparts that if the US continues to the end the process of quitting UNESCO, Israel would follow suit, but as yet they are not confirming they would do so quite soon or on own initiative," he added.

"Let’s see," he continued. "Of course, to me both the US decision and a possible Israeli decision are regretful and destructive from the point of view of the entire system of the UN bodies and organizations."

US withdrawing from UNESCO

On Thursday, the United States announced its withdrawal from UNESCO. A statement issued by US Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert said "US withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018."

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, the US has decided to pull out of UNESCO "to save money and protest what it views as the organization’s anti-Israel bias." The magazine added that in 2011, "the United States cut off more than $80 million a year, about 22% of its entire budget for UNESCO, in reprisal for the organization’s acceptance of Palestine as a member."

Later on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave instructions to the foreign ministry to prepare the country’s withdrawal from UNESCO.

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