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US withdraws from Unesco over 'anti-Israel bias'

•, Emily Shugerman

The United States has withdrawn from Unesco over what it claims is the organisation's "continuing anti-Israel bias" – a move that has just been followed by Israel itself. 

The US State Department recently announced its intention to withdraw from the UN's cultural, scientific and educational organisation and become a permanent observer instead.

"This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at Unesco, the need for fundamental reform in the organisation, and continuing anti-Israel bias at Unesco," the State Department said in a statement.

Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, added that the organisation's "extreme politicisation" has become "a chronic embarrassment".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signalled his approval, tweeting: "I welcome @realDonaldTrump's decision to withdraw from Unesco ... I have instructed the Foreign Ministry to prepare Israel's withdrawal from Unesco in parallel with the United States."

The US hopes to remain a non-member observer state, in order to contribute US opinions and expertise on issues like press freedoms and protecting world heritage, according to the Department. The decision will take effect at the end of 2018.

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