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U.S. withdraws from UNESCO

U.S. withdraws from UNESCO

Britain has confirmed its continued commitment to membership of Unesco after the USA announced it was withdrawing from the United Nations cultural body.

The latest withdrawal takes effect December 31, 2018.

The Trump administration has been preparing for a likely withdrawal for months, and a decision was expected before the end of the year, according to USA officials. He said UNESCO had "turned into a theatre of the absurd; instead of preserving history, it twists it".

Washington said it would establish an "observer mission" to replace its representation at the agency.

The United States has walked away once before under ex-president Ronald Reagan, who quit UNESCO in 1984 over alleged financial mismanagement and claims of anti-US bias in some of its policies.

Mr Netanyahu condemned the agency this year for declaring the old city of Hebron in the West Bank a Palestinian World Heritage site.

France's U.N. ambassador, Francois Delattre, had urged the United States to remain in UNESCO this week, saying the United States "must stay committed to world affairs".

And in 2015, Unesco adopted a resolution that criticized Israel for mishandling heritage sites in Jerusalem and condemned "Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against freedom of worship".

Just hours after that vote, the USA made a decision to cut its payments to UNESCO, while still maintaining its membership.

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Currently, 23 places in the United States are on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites, though nothing American appears in the organization's list of "intangible cultural heritage".

"The universal nature of UNESCO's activities is important in protecting peace and ensuring global security in the face of violence and hatred", Bokova said in her statement.

The cultural aid agency - which seeks to coordinate worldwide efforts in education, science and heritage remembrance - has been at odds with the US since 2011, when it voted overwhelmingly to offer full membership to a state of Palestine.

In recent years, Israel has repeatedly complained about what it says is the body taking sides in disputes over cultural heritage sites in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories. "This is a loss for multilateralism".

UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) head Irina Bokova has said the organization had received an official notification from Washington that the United States will withdraw from the organization.

"Today is a new day at the U.N., where there is price to pay for discrimination against Israel", Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said.

The United Nation's education, cultural and scientific agency has passed several resolutions against Israel. Under the Reagan Administration, the U.S. quit UNESCO in 1984, at the time accusing the agency of a pro- Soviet Union bias.

The U.S. joined UNESCO at its creation in 1945.

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