Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Ambassador Carmel Shama-Hacohen to submit a formal letter announcing Israel’s intent to withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The letter will be submitted before the end of the year and will go into effect at the end of 2018.
“The bottom line is that the US is leaving UNESCO because of Israel, and it’s our moral duty [to make sure] it’s not doing it alone,” Shama-Hacohen said to the media on Thursday. “UNESCO, led by Arab states, has broken records of hypocrisy, incitement and lies against Israel and the Jewish people, while polluting its noble basic values with politicization and diplomatic terror that sometimes bordered on anti-Semitism.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said the decision was based on the organization’s “attempts to disconnect Jewish history from the land of Israel.”
UNESCO has passed three resolutions in the past two years declaring the Israeli presence in Jerusalem to be illegal. The resolutions also gave a Muslim monopoly to the Temple Mount and listed the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron as a Heritage site in danger from Israel.
This move by Israel comes two months after the US Department of State announced its intended withdrawal from UNESCO due to its anti-Israel bias, which will become effective in 2019. The US withdrew from the organization in 1984 under President Ronald Reagan but rejoined in 2002 under President George W. Bush. Six years ago, President Obama cut 22 percent of its budget for UNESCO after the organization recognized the Palestinian Authority as a full member in contravention of US law.