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United States withdraws from UNESCO, the UN's cultural organization, citing anti-Israel bias

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State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington Wednesday

The withdraw becomes official on December 31, 2018, after which the United States will remain involved as a nonmember observer state.

The United States announced Thursday it is pulling out of the U.N.'s educational, scientific and cultural agency because of what Washington sees as its anti-Israel bias and a need for "fundamental reform" in the agency.

The United States notified UNESCO, a UN cultural organization, of its withdrawal, the U.S. State announced on October 12.

She called Washington's step a "loss to multilateralism".

Heather Nauert, US state department spokesperson, said on Thursday the US would establish an "observer mission" to replace its representation at the Paris-based agency.

The US has a long history of contradictions with UNESCO, an worldwide body that is aimed at promoting a respect for the rule of law and human rights through cultural and scientific collaboration.

Trump's predecessor Barack Obama slashed U.S. funding to the organization in 2011 after it voted to accept Palestine as a full member-state. Currently, 23 places in the USA are on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites, though nothing American appears in the organization's list of "intangible cultural heritage".

A statement released by the PM's office said that Netanyahu had instructed the Foreign Ministry to prepare Israel's withdrawal from UNESCO. "We deeply regret that the United States made a decision to leave UNESCO", the communique said.

It's worth noting that when the US withdraws from UNESCO, as pledged, it will not be for the first time.

Israel, meanwhile, remains a member of UNESCO.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs, along with the Hebron's Old City, were designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in July, despite opposition from the United States and Israel. Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley has repeatedly denounced these actions, and said the US was "evaluating" whether or not it should continue as a member of the organization.

Other than the absurd UN Human Rights Council, which is run by some of the worst human rights offenders in the world, UNESCO stands out for its anti-Jewish agenda, which seeks to deny the history of the Jewish presence in what now is Israel and Judea/Samaria (the "West Bank") putting in its place a false Islamic supremacist version of history.

Director-General Irina Bokova expressed disappointment at the U.S. decision.

Citing lines in UNESCO's 1945 Constitution by US Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish - "since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed" ¬- she said this vision has never been more relevant, and added that the US helped inspire the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention.

Analysts said that actually withdrawing from the organization was a significant escalation by the United States in its criticism of United Nations bodies.

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