THE US announced yesterday it was leaving UN heritage agency Unesco over its alleged “anti-Israel bias.”
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US would downgrade its membership to “permanent observer” status, also citing “the need for fundamental reform” and “mounting arrears.”
The US stopped payments to Unesco in 2011 after the agency allowed Palestine to join and now owes $550 million (£420m).
The agency has been critical of Israel’s illegal excavations of sites on occupied Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem, as well as its demolition of Byzantine and Arab buildings in the ancient city.
Unesco director-general Irina Bokova called the move a loss for “the United Nations family” and said in an age of violent extremism the US relationship with the agency was “more vital than ever.”
Ms Bokova stressed the agency’s support for Holocaust education and training teachers to fight anti-semitism.