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US to Leave UNESCO over Anti-Israel Bias

2017-10-13

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[00:00.00]
  • The United States is pulling out of UNESCO, the United Nations organization that encourages worldwide cooperation in education, science, and culture.
  • [00:12.48]
  • In a statement on Thursday, the U.S. State Department says a “need for fundamental reform” and “anti-Israel bias” are reasons for the withdrawal.
  • [00:25.31]
  • The decision will take effect Dec. 31, 2018.
  • [00:31.24]
  • The U.S. will seek a “permanent observer” status instead.
  • [00:37.38]
  • The United States stopped funding UNESCO after it voted to include Palestine as a member in 2011.
  • [00:46.02]
  • But it has kept an office at UNESCO and owes about $550 million in back payments.
  • [00:55.45]
  • U.S. officials said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the decision.
  • [01:02.47]
  • The officials, who remained unnamed, said the United States is angry over UNESCO resolutions denying Jewish connection to holy sites and Israel’s rights to Jerusalem.
  • [01:17.62]
  • Hours later, Israel said that it would also be leaving the UN agency.
  • [01:23.81]
  • The office of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the U.S. withdrawal “a courageous and moral decision.”
  • [01:33.35]
  • The announcement came as the cultural organization is choosing a new director.
  • [01:39.74]
  • The outgoing UNESCO chief, Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, called the U.S. withdrawal a loss for “the United Nations family.”
  • [01:50.96]
  • She also noted UNESCO efforts to support Holocaust education and train teachers to fight anti-Semitism.
  • [02:00.36]
  • She added that the Statue of Liberty is among the many World Heritage sites protected by the organization.
  • [02:10.37]
  • It is not the first time that the United States has withdrawn from UNESCO.
  • [02:16.16]
  • In the 1980s, it left because it viewed the organization as poorly managed, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests.
  • [02:27.71]
  • The U.S. rejoined in 2003.
  • [02:32.12]
  • Other UNESCO members did not immediately comment on the U.S. withdrawal.
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