When announcing that it was pulling out of UNESCO in October, the US specifically cited “the need for fundamental reform in the organization and continuing anti-Israel bias” at the UN cultural agency. It appears that Tel Aviv has now decided to follow Washington’s step.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed Carmel Shama-Hacohen, the country’s envoy to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to officially announce the country’s withdrawal from the organization.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, for his part, said that the move was caused by UNESCO’s “systematic attacks” on the Jewish state and “attempts to disconnect Jewish history from the land of Israel.”
The official letter of the withdrawal will be submitted by the end of this year, with Israel due to effectively leave UNESCO before the end of 2018.
In October 2017, UNESCO head Irina Bokova said that they had received an official notification from Washington that the United States will withdraw from the organization at the end of next year.
Tel Aviv’s relations with the UN cultural body have been deteriorating over the past several months.
Israel has reduced payments from the funds that the country transfers annually to the United Nations in response to a ruling in UNESCO, which labeled Israeli an “occupying power” in East Jerusalem.
Earlier in May, UNESCO’s executive committee passed a resolution on Israel, referring to the country in the document as “the occupying power” and slamming Israel’s activity in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.
The document was supported by 22 UN states, including Russia, China, and Sweden. The United States was among ten countries that voted against the resolution.
Israel’s UNESCO withdrawal announcement comes after Thursday’s UN General Assembly vote in which an overwhelming majority of UN member states rejected US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital.