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Trump pulls United States out of UNESCO, citing anti-Israel bias

Trump pulls United States out of UNESCO, citing anti-Israel bias

The State Department announced today that the United States will withdraw from UNESCO, citing "continuing anti-Israel bias" at the United Nation's cultural, educational, and science organization as well as its "need for fundamental reform" and "mounting arrears".

Hours later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would leave the agency too, praising the USA as "brave and moral".

Hours after the USA announced its withdrawal, the Israel joined in, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying he had instructed his foreign ministry to begin preparations to leave.

Netanyahu said Thursday that UNESCO has become a "theater of the absurd because instead of preserving history, it distorts it".

The U.S. will withdraw on December 31, 2018, but will remain active in the group as a nonmember observer.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the agency need a 'reform, ' while announcing America's withdrawal.

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The US pulled out of the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO on Thursday, citing a need for reform and what it said was "anti-Israel bias".

Hours later, Israel announced that it would also be leaving the United Nations body.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Government is committed to continued United Kingdom membership of Unesco and to working with other member states in support of its important work". The president has touted an "America First" policy, which puts USA economic and national interests ahead of global commitments. US President Donald Trump's Administration also had no provisions in next year's budget for this goal, The Time wrote.

Washington is also reviewing its membership of the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, which it also accuses of being anti-Israel.

Israel, meanwhile, remains a member of UNESCO.

Well known for designating and protecting worldwide landmarks called World Heritage Sites, UNESCO was founded after World War Two on the broader principles of confronting extremism and promoting peace around the flow of ideas and culture. "Unfortunately, its extreme politicization has become a chronic embarrassment", she said in a statement.

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Irina Bokova, outgoing UNESCO director general, reacted to the development with "profound regret", calling "universality" key to its mission.

Unesco said the withdrawal was a loss to the "UN family" and to multilateralism.

In 2011 the U.S. cut its funding to the agency - slashing its budget by 22 percent - in protest at its decision to grant full membership to the Palestine.

In July, Unesco declared the ancient and hotly contested core of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank as a Palestinian World Heritage Site.

The race for leadership position in the UN's cultural body came down to five candidates after a third round of voting on Wednesday, leaving former culture ministers France's Audrey Azoulay and Qatar's Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari as the frontrunners.

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