On Thursday the Trump administration announced that it would be pulling out of UNESCO, claiming that the cultural organization has displayed continuous “anti-Israel bias” as well as other problems.
According to a State Department statement, the withdrawal will take place at the end of next 2018.
The statement read “This decision was not taken lightly and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.”
Additionally, the statement said that country planned to “remain engaged” with the organization as a non-member observer state.
While the US cut off funding for the UNESCO during the Obama administration this move is de facto mostly symbolic. After the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization voted to include Palestine as a member in 2011, the US ceased its funding. Regardless of how much impact this move will actually have, it was well received in Israel.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after the announcement that “It was a brave and ethical decision since UNESCO has turned into a theater of the absurd. Instead of guarding history, it is corrupting it.” Netanyahu instructed the Israeli mission to the U.N. to follow suit and leave UNESCO when the US does.
This is not the first time that the US has pulled out of UNESCO. The Reagan administration withdrew from the organization in 1984. However, President George W. Bush brought the United States back into the group in 2002. The move seems to highlight the current administration’s criticism of the United Nations headed by President Trump and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
(This story was written by the Israel staff after Shmini Atzeret ended in Israel)