Washington: The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, alleged anti-Israel bias in the Unesco on Tuesday. “Unesco is among the most corrupt and politically biased UN agencies,” Haley tweeted. “Today the US withdrawal from this cesspool became official. #USStrong”.
The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 from Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), and the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit.
Paris-based Unesco, which supports various educational and cultural projects around the world, has been denounced by critics for criticising Israel’s occupation of east Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.
“Israel will not be a member of an organisation whose goal is to deliberately act against us, and that has become a tool manipulated by Israel’s enemies. Unesco is a body that continually rewrites history, including by erasing the Jewish connection to Jerusalem,” said Danny Danon, Israel’s envoy to the UN, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The withdrawals which are mainly procedural, are yet deliver a new blow to Unesco. They will not greatly impact Unesco financially, since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011. That was the year when Israel and the US stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state.
Since then, officials estimate that the US — which accounted for around 22 per cent of the total budget — has accrued $600 million in unpaid dues, which was one of the reasons for President Trump’s decision to withdraw. Israel owes an estimated $10 million.
Unesco Director General Audrey Azoulay took up her post just after Trump announced the withdrawal. Azoulay, who has Jewish and Moroccan heritage, spent the last year lobbying for the two countries to remain members....