US leaves UNESCO, citing ‘anti-Israel bias’; Israel follows suit

Netanyahu plans for Israel’s withdrawal from UNESCO in parallel with the US, which cited “continuing anti-Israel bias” among its reasons.

The Department of State notified United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (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, the State Department announced Thursday.

“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,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

The US plans to “remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state,” the statement read.

The withdrawal takes effect on Dec. 31, 2018.

This is a courageous and ethical decision because UNESCO has become a theater of the absurd and instead of preserving history, distorts it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the Foreign Ministry to prepare Israel’s withdrawal from UNESCO in parallel with the US,” a spokesperson for the premier stated.

“UNESCO has become a battlefield for Israel bashing and has disregarded its true role and purpose. Today’s decision is a turning point for UNESCO. The organization’s absurd and shameful resolutions against Israel have consequences. Today is a new day at the UN, where there is price to pay for discrimination against Israel,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny declared.

“The United States stands by Israel and is a true leader for change at the UN. The alliance between our two countries is stronger than ever,” Danon added.

UNESCO Director-General Irena Bokova, reacting to the US withdrawal, tweeted: “I deeply regret the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from UNESCO.”

A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he “regrets this development deeply.”