Citing Anti-Israel Bias, US Pulls Out of UN Cultural Heritage Agency

| OCT 12, 2017 | 3:22 PM

On Thursday, the State Department told the head of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that it would withdraw its membership but continue participating as “a non-member observer state.”

According to reports from The Guardian and Associated Press, the United States was particularly perturbed by UNESCO's alleged anti-Israel bias.

Speaking to the AP, officials pointed to UNESCO blocking resolutions connecting holy sites to Jewish influence, as well as descriptions of Israel as occupying area of the Middle East.

In response, UNESCO's director-general lamented the U.S.'s decision as “a loss to both the organization and the U.S.” The U.S.'s participation, Director-general Irina Bokova said, was of particular importance now given “the rise of violent extremism and terrorism.”

UNESCO stopped receiving the U.S.'s funding after the organization voted to include Palestine. But Thursday's decision came after the United Nations saw intense criticism this year from the Trump administration.

The United States's ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has stood out for her stark condemnations of member states for exhibiting bias against Israel.

Earlier this year, Haley took aim at the U.N. Security Council for turning their monthly meetings into “Israel-bashing sessions.”

“That’s the way the Security Council has operated for years. It’s a formula that is absurdly biased against one country. It’s a formula that is painfully narrow in its description of the conflicts in the region,” Haley said.