President Trump's decision to withdraw from UNESCO undermines the historic role of the United States as a leader in this effort and weakens our position as a strong advocate for cultural preservation. "Mounting arrears" was also cited by the state department as one other reason why the USA withdrew from UNESCO.
In a statement on Thursday, the U.S. State Department says a "need for fundamental reform" and "anti-Israel bias" are reasons for the withdrawal. The withdrawal was confirmed Thursday by USA officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to be publicly named discussing the decision.
US President Donald Trump's administration is reviewing many of its multilateral commitments.
The Trump administration's planned departure from UNESCO comes as the president has withdrawn - or threatened to withdraw - from multiple worldwide agreements, including the Paris climate accords.
This is not the first time that the United States has withdrawn from UNESCO. Earlier this year, the Trump administration floated massive cuts to United States funding for the UN, which were popular with some pro-Israel conservatives but ultimately impractical. Today is a new day at the United Nations, where there is price to pay for discrimination against Israel.
"The goal of the UNESCO is to enhance cooperation in the field of education, science and culture and promote mutual understanding and integration in these fields", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said. As a result, the USA owes more than $500 million to UNESCO, according to Foreign Policy.
Again, there's complexity here that we're skimming over - Barack Obama and others in the U.S. have still frequently criticised Israel's settler expansion, and expressed support for a two-state solution amenable to both Israel and Palestine (much, much easier said than done).
The US was angered in 2011 when UNESCO members granted Palestine full membership of the body, despite opposition from its ally Israel.
UNESCO itself has released a statement expressing disappointment in the United States decision. The acronym expands to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and it's probably best known as the branch of the UN responsible for heritage listing stuff around the world.
He called the USA decision "a turning point for UNESCO, adding that the organization's "absurd and shameful resolutions against Israel" have consequences".
The American reluctance to pay due membership fees has negatively impacted the agency's routine operations and staff employment. She added that the Statue of Liberty is among the many World Heritage sites protected by the organization.
And in July, UNESCO declared the old city in Hebron, a West Bank town that includes the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a Palestinian World Heritage Site, a move Israel claims negates Judaism's links to the biblical town.
In 2015, according to The New York Times, UNESCO criticized Israel for "aggressions" and for blocking Muslims from accessing the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.