JERUSALEM (dpa-AFX) - The United States has decided to pull out from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO.
Mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO were the official reasons cited by the US Government for the withdrawal.
But it was clear from the statement by the US Ambassador to the United Nations that the main provocation was UNESCO designating a site claimed by Israel as a Palestinian endangered World Heritage site.
'In July, when UNESCO made its latest outrageous and politically based decision, designating the Old City of Hebron (in the occupied West Bank) and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as part of Palestinian territory, the United States clearly stated that this decision would negatively affect our evaluation of our level of engagement with the organization,' US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement. She issued a stern warning that the United States will continue to evaluate all other UN agencies 'through the same lens'.
America's Permanent Representative to the UN noted that UNESCO's extreme politicization has become a chronic embarrassment. '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,' said Nikki Haley.
Washington opposes any move by UN bodies to recognize the Palestinians as a state, believing that this must await a negotiated Middle East peace deal.
Close on the heels of the US, Israel also announced that it will withdraw from the UN's cultural and education body in protest against its 'anti- Israel' stand.
Israel's UN ambassador hailed the US decision as 'a new era' at the United Nations, and said it showed there was a 'price to pay for discrimination against Israel'.
The Department of State notified UNESCO of its intent to establish a permanent observer mission to the organization, and to remain engaged with it as a non-member observer state.
U. S. withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018. The United States will remain a full member of UNESCO until then.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX