US quits Unesco over ‘anti-Israel bias’

Photo: AFP


The US is pulling out of the UN’s cultural organisation Unesco, accusing it of “anti-Israel” bias, the BBC reports. 

The agency is known for designating world heritage sites such as Syria’s Palmyra and the US Grand Canyon.

The state department said it would establish an observer mission at the Paris-based organisation to replace its representation.

Unesco head Irina Bokova said the withdrawal was a matter of “profound regret”.

The US withdrawal represented a loss to the “UN family” and to multilateralism, Ms Bokova added.

In 2011 the US cancelled its budget contribution to Unesco in protest at its decision to grant full membership to the Palestinians.

The US withdrawal is also motivated by a desire to save money, Foreign Policy magazine reported.

US President Donald Trump has criticised what he sees as a disproportionate contribution by the US to UN institutions. The US funds 22% of the UN’s regular budget and 28% of UN peacekeeping.

Unesco is in the process of choosing a new leader, with Qatari and French former ministers Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari and Audrey Azoulay neck-and-neck in the contest to replace Ms Bokova.

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