US and Israel exit UN cultural agency, claiming bias

The withdrawal took effect on the stroke of the New Year.

:: The United States and Israel have quit the UN’s educational, scientific and cultural agency, arguing the organization fosters anti-Israel bias.

The withdrawal took effect on the stroke of the New Year, after the Trump administration and the Israeli prime minister announced their decision to leave UNESCO in 2017.

While it’s largely procedural, the moment marks a blow to the agency, which the US co-founded after World War II to foster peace. The US suspended its funding to UNESCO after it admitted Palestine as a member in 2011.

The US has demanded “fundamental reform” in the agency that is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions.

UNESCO’s director general, Audrey Azoulay, has recently championed a Holocaust education website and the UN’s first educational guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism.

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