[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[02:10.37]It is not the first time that the United States has withdrawn from UNESCO.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.