Russia: Israel following 'bad example' of U.S. in UNESCO pullout

Russia: Israel following 'bad example' of U.S. in UNESCO pullout

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, "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". This notice will take effect on 31 December, 2018.

The U.S. decision, announced Thursday, to withdraw from UNESCO over what the State Department calls "anti-Israel bias" and a need for "fundamental reform" is the latest chapter in America's surprisingly contentious relationship with the Paris-based agency best known for its cultural preservation work and list of protected World Heritage sites. Since then, the US has maintained a presence at UNESCO and lobbied behind the scenes.

Washington will resume full membership only if the UNESCO makes substantial changes, State Department officials said Thursday.

Netanyahu, in a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office, called the American move a "brave and moral decision, because UNESCO has become the theater of the absurd and because instead of preserving history, it distorts it". The Reagan administration quit the organization in the 1980's, and the US rejoined it only two decades later, under the George W. Bush administration.

"So I think that this is an emotional step connected with the unipolar world syndrome that this great country, the United States, is going through".

The US has been a supporter of Israel for a while, providing financial support through foreign aid, and frequently using its veto power at the United Nations to block resolutions that would harm Israel.

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Permanent representative of the Russian Federation to UNESCO Alexander Kuznetsov, who is now in Paris, told TASS that the decision of the United States was regrettable. We've written about this before - there's a good backgrounder here on Israel getting real mad at New Zealand for sponsoring a United Nations resolution declaring the construction of settlements on Palestinian territory illegal under global law. "Despite the withholding of funding, since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful".

"I'm here to emphasize that the United States is determined to stand up to the U.N.'s anti-Israel bias". Because the US hadn't been paying its bill - which, as UNESCO's biggest contributor, was a big one - it lost its voting rights in 2013. Today's decision is a turning point for UNESCO.

UNESCO is the first United Nations agency to have admitted Palestine as a full member in 2011.

For differing reasons, Britain, Japan and Brazil are among states that have yet to pay their dues for 2017.

It might also encourage UNESCO members to punish the USA by antagonizing it further on Israel-Palestine issues. In July, another resolution declared the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank an endangered World Heritage site. Currently, the United States owes over 500 million US dollars to the organization.

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