US Withdraws from UNESCO

Oct 12, 2017

President Trump announced today that the United States will withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) because of its anti-Israel bias. The withdrawal will take effect on Dec. 31, 2018 but the U.S. may remain involved as a nonmember observer state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the U.S. decision to leave UNESCO “brave” and “moral.” He said he has instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to also prepare for Israel’s withdrawal.

UNESCO has a record of fostering anti-Semitism, including the decision to include Palestine as a member in 2011, though Israel and its allies are far outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters. While the U.S. stopped funding UNESCO after it voted to include Palestine as a member, the State Department has maintained a UNESCO office at its Paris headquarters and sought to weigh in on policy behind the scenes. The withdrawal means the U.S. will halt the debt it has run-up since it stopped funding the organization in 2011 to protest the admission of the Palestinian Authority as a full member. By the end of 2017, the unpaid U.S. bill will amount to $550 million. The Trump administration's proposed budget for the next fiscal year contained no provision for the possibility that UNESCO funding restrictions might be lifted.

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