US, Israel exit UNESCO

US, Israel exit UNESCO

The United States and Israel announced on Thursday they were quitting the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO after Washington accused it of anti-Israeli bias.

The withdrawal of the US, which is meant to provide a fifth of UNESCO’s funding, is a major blow for the Paris-based organisation, founded after World War Two to help protect cultural and natural heritage around the world.

UNESCO is best known for designating World Heritage Sites such as the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and the Grand Canyon National Park.

“This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organisation, and continuing anti-Israel bias,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. Hours later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would quit too, calling the US decision “brave and moral”.

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