UNESCO 'regrets' Israel's withdrawal

UNESCO 'regrets' Israel's withdrawal

UNESCO 'regrets' Israel's withdrawal

Israel's envoy to the UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, attempts to deliver official papers announcing Israels withdrawal from the cultural organization, December 28, 2017.

"Today we made an attempt to submit our formal letter of withdrawal, ending the State of Israel's membership of UNESCO", Shama-Hacohen said Thursday.

A Member of UNESCO since 1949, Israel chose to suspend its cooperation with the organization after the executive council of UNESCO adopted a resolution, condemning Israel for posing obstacles to Muslims willing to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Israel and the United States will remain as observer states of UNESCO, whose full name is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organisation. As a result, UNESCO lost 22% of its financing.

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In announcing its withdrawal, the US Department of State noted "anti-Israel bias" and "the need for fundamental reform" within the organisation.

The US, at the time, accused Unesco of having an "anti-Israel bias" - a sentiment echoed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who accused Unesco of becoming "the theatre of the absurd".

The 195-member body is best known for producing a list of World Heritage Sites that have become tourist favourites.

Such disagreements were best dealt with from "inside UNESCO and not outside it", Azoulay said.

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Between 2009-2014, UNESCO adopted 46 resolutions against Israel; 1 on Syria; and none on Iran, Sudan, North Korea, or any other country in the world.

In recent years, however, Israel has been infuriated by resolutions that ignore and diminish its historical connection to the Holy Land and that have named ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites.

"It is inside UNESCO and not outside it" that countries can overcome their differences", she added.

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