Israel to withdraw from UNESCO before 2018

UNESCO HQ. [Photo credit: Unesco]
UNESCO HQ. [Photo credit: Unesco]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that his country will withdraw from the UN cultural agency, UNESCO.

Mr. Netanyahu had already announced in October that Israel would pull out of UNESCO following a decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw the U.S. from the agency for its alleged “anti-Israel bias.”

A Foreign Ministry spokesman had said Saturday that a letter of withdrawal will be sent before the start of the new year.

“Over the weekend I instructed the Foreign Ministry to withdraw from UNESCO,” Netanyahu said at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting.

“I think that this is necessary in light of the biased, unilateral and absurd attitude of the organization towards us and also in the background of the U.S. strong stance in the UN, which we welcome,” he continued.

Israel has complained that a succession of UNESCO motions condemning its actions in Jerusalem did not take into account Jewish links to the city and the disputed holy site known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Earlier in the year, the agency added the old town of Hebron in the West Bank, a pilgrimage site for Christians, Jews and Muslims, under its World Heritage Sites in Palestine, sparking outrage in Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu’s statement comes as the UN General Assembly last week overwhelmingly voted to rebuke Washington over its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Those who do not want a solution to the conflict are the Palestinians,” Mr. Netanyahu said, referring to a statement by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he would not work with the U.S. on any peace process.

(dpa/NAN)

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