Israel Withdraws From UNESCO After US; UNESCO Regrets Decisions
The United Nations' cultural agency will elect a new chief on Friday, seeking someone who can revive UNESCO's fortunes after the United States and Israel pulled out.
Whoever gets the job will have to restore relevance to the agency whose mission to protect the world's cultural and natural heritage has been hobbled by regional rivalries and a lack of money.
He will face off against either Moushira Khattab, an Egyptian diplomat and politician, or Audrey Azoulay, a former French culture minister, whichever woman wins a ballot on Friday afternoon
US, Israel Quit UNESCO
The United States and Israel announced on Thursday, 12 October, they were quitting the UN's cultural agency, UNESCO, after Washington accused it of anti-Israeli bias.
The withdrawal of the United States, which is meant to provide a fifth of UNESCO's funding, is a major blow for the Paris-based organisation, founded after World War II to help protect cultural and natural heritage around the world.
Within a few hours after the US decision, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would quit too, calling the US decision "brave and moral".
UNESCO director general Irina Bokova expressed disappointment.
The United States and Israel were among just 14 of 194 members that voted against admitting the Palestinians.
The United States had cancelled its substantial budget contribution to UNESCO in 2011 in protest at a decision to grant the Palestinians full membership.
Although Washington supports a future independent Palestinian state, it says this should emerge out of peace talks and it considers it unhelpful for international organisations to admit Palestine until negotiations are complete.
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