TEL AVIV — Israel is expected to announce its withdrawal from UNESCO this week in an expression of gratitude to the U.S. for its recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital.
The move will become effective at the end of 2018, when the United States completes its withdrawal from the UN’s cultural agency.
In October, the U.S. announced its plan to pull out of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization in protest of the agency’s anti-Israel bias.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel finalized the withdrawal decision on Friday after the UN’s General Assembly voted to reject the American recognition.
Carmel Shama Hacohen, Israel’s emissary to the agency, said, “This departure is the best way to express our gratitude to our best and great ally the United States, and in particular to its excellent representative, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.”
“For many years, the U.S. has made sure that Israel won’t walk alone while facing a crushing majority and paying a price. The bottom line is that the U.S. is leaving UNESCO because of the State of Israel, and we have a moral obligation to ensure that she doesn’t do that alone,” he said.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Shama Hacohen on Friday to submit the formal withdrawal letter to Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s director-general. Netanyahu told Shama Hacohen that the country needed to file the letter before year’s end, otherwise the withdrawal would be delayed by a whole year.
Azoulay, a French politician of Morrocan Jewish descent, is UNESCO’s first Jewish director-general, but she is not believed to be able to sway the votes cast by member states.
Both the U.S. and Israel indicated they would remain in the organization if it would amend its anti-Israel bias, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“The Israeli government isn’t slamming the door, but rather invites the organization’s new leadership, together with sane countries, to advance reform and stop fearing the same gang that rules over the organization,” Shama Hacohen said.