US Will Withdraw From Unesco Over Its 'Anti-Israel Bias'

Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization logo is at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris France

Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization logo is at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris France. Francois Mori AP

The United States has chose to withdraw from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), AFP is reporting on Thursday.

The director of UNESCO is expressing "profound regret" at the USA government's decision to pull out of the United Nations cultural agency because of what's seen as longstanding anti-Israel bias.

"This decision was not taken lightly", according to a State Department statement on Thursday.

She recalled that in 2011, after the suspension of Washington's financial participation in the organization, she said that "UNESCO has never been more important to the United States, and the United States has never been so important to UNESCO". USA envoy to the UN Nikki Haley made the Trump administration's position clear in July following UNESCO's ruling that the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Old City of Hebron is a Palestinian World Heritage Site threatened by Israel. The U.S. will remain an observer in the Paris-based cultural, scientific and educational organization.

The officials, who were not authorized to be publicly named discussing the issue, said U.S.is notably angry over UNESCO resolutions denying Jewish connections to holy sites and references to Israel as an occupying power.

If it does withdraw from UNESCO, the USA would remain as an observer state in meetings.

The United States indicated to the Director General its desire to remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state in order to contribute US views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education. It was not clear when the move would be formally announced.

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