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US, Israel quit UNESCO citing bias

US, Israel quit UNESCO citing bias

The United States and Israel officially quit the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the end of 2018.

Both countries had announced their decisions in 2017 of withdrawing from the agency, accusing it of bias against Israel. 

The US has demanded fundamental reform in UNESCO, which was co-founded by it after World War II to foster peace.

Israel joined the agency in 1949. It is best known for its World Heritage program, which designates cultural sites and aims to preserve traditions. 

Why the US and Israel withdrew?

The Paris-based UNESCO has been denounced by its critics as a crucible for anti-Israel bias: blasted for criticizing Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.

Impact on UNESCO

The withdrawals will not greatly impact UNESCO financially, since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011 when both Israel and the U.S. stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state.

It’s not the first time

The United States has pulled out of UNESCO before.

The Reagan administration did so in 1984 because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests. The U.S. rejoined in 2003.

UNESCO

Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.

It is the successor of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.

It is based in Paris.

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