United States withdraws from UNESCO citing Palestinian Tensions

United States withdraws from UNESCO citing Palestinian Tensions

Paris-based UNESCO, which began work in 1946, is known for designating World Heritage sites such as the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and the Grand Canyon National Park.

Director-general Irina Bokova said in a statement that the departure is a loss for "the United Nations family" and for multilateralism.

The US is reported to be on the verge of withdrawing from UNESCO, after accusing the institution of anti-Israel bias, Foreign Policy reported today.

According to AP, Washington made the move due to "tensions over Palestine, specifically because of a resolution adopted by UNESCO, which Washington sees as being anti-Israeli".

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This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO. The United States suspended its UNESCO funding in 2011 over its vote to include Palestine as a member, and now owes about $550 million in back payments.

The magazine said the decision was aimed at saving money and to protest what the U.S believes is UNESCO's anti-Israel stance.

According to the report, the move, which is expected to be announced as early as next week, would allow the U.S. to remain as an observer state in the organization that it helped establish after World War II.

The decision comes as the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is voting to choose a new director this week, in tense balloting overshadowed by the agency's funding troubles and divisions over Palestinian membership. The United States withdrawal goes into effect at the end of 2018.

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