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13 October 2017, 12:21 | Rufus Hill
Ambassador Phạm Sanh Châu the Vietnamese candidate for the position of UNESCO Director-General. — VNA VNS
Israel on Thursday welcomed USA pulling out of the UN's cultural organization, announcing the Jewish state was considering a similar move due to the body's "anti-Israel" bias.
"I wish to express profound regret at the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from UNESCO", Bokova said in a statement, adding that the organization's relations with the United States were based on shared values.In her statement, Bokova said the US' cooperation with UNESCO is highly important as the world is facing rising terrorism, antisemitism, and violations of freedom.
UNESCO is best known for its work to preserve heritage, including maintaining a list of World Heritage sites, and programmes to promote education in developing countries.
The US is withdrawing from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, the US State Department announced on Thursday, citing anti-Israel bias and mounting membership dues owed to the global body.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the vote "another delusional decision" by UNESCO, which promotes education, cultural development and free media initiatives around the world.
Analysts said that actually withdrawing from the organization was a significant escalation by the United States in its criticism of United Nations bodies. "This is a loss for multilateralism". Just hours after that vote, the USA made a decision to cut its payments to UNESCO, while still maintaining its membership. Nearly 200 states are now members of UNESCO. Washington's arrears on its $80 million annual dues since then are now over $500 million.
The United States said on October 12, 2017 that it was pulling out of the UN's culture and education body, accusing it of "anti-Israel bias" in a move that underlines Washington's drift away from worldwide institutions.
In recent years, Israel has repeatedly complained about what it says is the body taking sides in disputes over cultural heritage sites in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.
An Arab-backed UNESCO resolution past year condemned Israeli's policies at religious sites in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
It says the withdrawal will take effect December 31, 2018. Three diplomats had told Reuters earlier on Thursday of the impending decision.
The organisation, which employs around 2,000 people worldwide, majority based in Paris, has always been the object of criticism over its use of resources and resolutions that have been perceived by Israel and other countries as biased.
The U.S. joined UNESCO at its creation in 1945.
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"The absence of the United States or any large country with a lot of power is a loss". It will become a mere "observer state", with no dues paid and no contribution to how the organization is run. "Since 2011 they have practically not been paying to the budget of this organisation".
After four days of secret balloting to pick a new UNESCO chief, Qatar's Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari qualified for the Friday runoff.
The candidate from Egypt, Moushira Khattab, bagged the third spot with 13 votes, while Chinese candidate Qian Tang and Lebanese Vera El Khoury received five and four votes, respectively. Other members of the council said his withdrawal would help to pool votes for the remaining candidates, which would mean fewer chances for more tied results as witnessed in the previous two rounds.
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