United States pulls out of UNESCO

VN exits race for UNESCO chief position

Nauert said the state department had notified Bokova of their decision earlier on Thursday.

UNESCO was once a low-profile United Nations agency best known for producing a list of World Heritage sites such as the Grand Canyon or Cambodia's Angkor Wat, as well as running science, media and cultural programmes internationally.

The withdrawal represented a loss to the "UN family" and to multilateralism, Ms Bokova said.

Tensions have flared again in recent years: in 2011, the United States stopped funding the agency after UNESCO voted to admit the Palestinian Authority as a full member; two years later, the U.S. lost its vote due to these financial cuts.

Washington said it would establish an "observer mission" to replace its representation at the agency. It cited USA belief in "the need for fundamental reform in the organization".

Netanyahu said Thursday that UNESCO has become a "theater of the absurd because instead of preserving history, it distorts it". And in 2015, Unesco adopted a resolution that criticized Israel for mishandling heritage sites in Jerusalem and condemned "Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against freedom of worship".

He says he has ordered Israeli diplomats to prepare Israel's withdrawal from the organization in concert with the Americans.

"The US relationship with Unesco is a matter for them".

He said: "Unesco has become a battlefield for Israel bashing and has disregarded its true role and objective".

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She said the US pulling out is a loss for the United Nations and for worldwide alliances.

That year the United States stopped paying into UNESCO but did not officially withdraw.

U.S. quits Unesco over "anti-Israel bias" Trump quits because UNESCO promotes science, education, culture.

Many saw the 2011 UNESCO vote to include Palestine as evidence of long-running, ingrained anti-Israel bias within the United Nations, where Israel and its allies are far outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters. In the USA, listed sites include the Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall, as well as national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. With no funds forthcoming, the US lost its vote in the agency in 2013. The U.S. rejoined it in 2003.

Nauert also clarified that, in accordance with the charter of UNESCO, the decision on "the U.S. withdrawal will enter into force on December 31, 2018".

In 2011 the United States cut its funding to the agency - slashing its budget by 22 percent - in protest at its decision to grant full membership to the Palestine.

"We will be carefully watching how the organization and the new director general steers the agency", Hegadorn said.

In addition, the Trump administration's proposed budget for the next fiscal year contains no provision for the possibility that Unesco funding restrictions might be lifted.

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