UNESCO Withdrawal 'Counterproductive,' According to UN Foundation Official

US withdraws from UNESCO, Iowa City the only 'City of Literature' recognized in US

"The prime minister instructed the foreign ministry to prepare Israel's withdrawal from the organisation alongside the United States", Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

The United States announced on Thursday that it would be pulling out of the UN's educational, scientific and cultural agency (UNESCO) because of what Washington sees as its anti-Israel bias and a need for "fundamental reform" in the agency.

"It's a fearless and moral decision", Netanyahu posted on his Facebook page.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said the decision makes "it clear that culture, history, world heritage isn't impt to [Trump], even if it is to Americans & world".

The withdrawal is part of the U.S. administration's desire for wider United Nations reforms and if UNESCO goes back to addressing only culture, Washington "might take another look on it", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters. US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, "As many of you know, we were in arrears to the tune of $550 million or so".

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"This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects United States concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organisation, and continuing anti-Israel bias", she said in a statement. But the organization isn't almost as prominent or geopolitically significant as the UN Security Council, which sets binding global law, or UN Peacekeeping, a body literally tasked with helping war-torn countries transition to peace.

This is not the first time that the USA has withdrawn from UNESCO.

The US responded by cutting off funding to any organisation that recognised independent Palestine and its 22 per cent share of the annual UNESCO budget, which was then US$80 million, was also suspended.

As a result of US funding cuts, USA arrears have been swelling each year, surpassing $500 million that's owed to UNESCO. This is a loss to the United Nations family.

Washington has withheld funding to the organisation since 2011, when the agency admitted Palestine as a full member.

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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.

The State Department wanted to delay its departure until after UNESCO selects a new director general this week.

Well known for designating and protecting worldwide landmarks called World Heritage Sites, UNESCO was founded after World War Two on the broader principles of confronting extremism and promoting peace around the flow of ideas and culture.

The race for leadership position in the UN's cultural body came down to five candidates after a third round of voting on Wednesday, leaving former culture ministers France's Audrey Azoulay and Qatar's Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari as the frontrunners. It also withdrew under the Reagan administration in 1984, and rejoined in 2002 under President George W. Bush.

The decision comes as a heavy blow to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), as the United States is meant to provide a fifth of funding to the program. In July, another resolution declared the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank an endangered World Heritage site.

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