WASHINGTON, DC — On Thursday, House Foreign Affairs chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) lauded the United States’s decision to withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), citing the move as “unfortunate but appropriate” because of UNESCO’s anti-Israel bias.
“This move is unfortunate but appropriate given UNESCO’s mismanagement and disturbing anti-Israel bias,” Royce said in a statement. “That said, the United States must remain a leader in preserving cultural heritage sites and countering those – like ISIS – who destroy and traffic priceless antiquities. The Foreign Affairs Committee will continue to be engaged in this important fight.”
The State Department announced the move on Thursday, saying, “This decision was not taken lightly and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.”
The U.S. will remain as an observer.
The decision arrived following a series of anti-Israel resolutions voted on favorably by the body.
Israel has reportedly also indicated it intends to withdraw from UNESCO.
In July, UNESCO declared Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs – Judaism’s second holiest site after the Temple Mount – to be a Palestinian world heritage site.
Also in July, UNESCO passed a highly biased anti-Israel resolution where it labeled Jerusalem’s Old City and its ancient walls as “occupied territories” and claimed that Israel is the “occupying power.” The text of the resolution also refers to “East Jerusalem,” which is a nonexistent entity.
Less than two weeks after UNESCO passed the resolution, a Palestinian terrorist attack took place on the Temple Mount, leaving two Israeli Border police officers dead, and a third was wounded when three Palestinians opened fire near an entrance to the Temple Mount.
This week, American Jewish groups expressed growing concern over the candidacy of Qatar’s Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari to be the next director-general of UNESCO, citing his anti-semitic ties.