USA withdrew from UNESCO in connection with attacks on Israel

The US State Department has officially announced its withdrawal from UNESCO – the United Nations Agency for Educational, Scientific and Cultural Affairs.

According to the official statement of the US Department of State, which was handed over on Thursday, October 12, to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, this decision was made in connection with “the growing debts of UNESCO, the need to carry out fundamental reforms in the organization and prejudice against Israel.”

Earlier, the American edition of Foreign Policy wrote that this decision was due, among other things, to the desire to save financial resources. The United States currently donates $ 80 million annually to UNESCO. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with the “disproportionate” share of the United States in financing international institutions.

The decision will come into force on December 31, 2018. After that, the United States expects to continue cooperation with UNESCO as a permanent observer.

The UNESCO leadership expressed “deep regret” over the withdrawal of the United States.

Soon after the statement of the American State Department, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli Foreign Ministry to prepare for the process of leaving the organization simultaneously with the United States.

On 7 July 2017, UNESCO declared the Old City of Hebron (Al-Khalil) and the Cave of the Forefathers (Haram al-Ibrahimi) as a Palestinian Cultural Heritage Site of Worldwide Significance. Earlier, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee voted for a resolution denying Israel’s sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem and condemning excavations in the historic part of the Israeli capital. In response to these decisions, Israel has sharply reduced its participation in the funding of UNESCO.

The issue of the US withdrawal from UNESCO, raised by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was discussed several weeks ago on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. In particular, this issue was raised at a meeting between US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The announcement of this decision has been postponed until the election of a new UNESCO Director-General this week. The main candidates are Audrey Azoulay (France) and Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari (Qatar). Paris asked Washington to support their candidate and hoped that the United States would not leave UNESCO during the crisis.

Recall that the United States is one of the founding states of UNESCO. In 1984, at the height of the Cold War, US President Ronald Reagan initiated his country’s withdrawal from UNESCO, considering this organization an ideological ally of the USSR. In 2002, with George W. Bush as president, the United States rejoined UNESCO.

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