The U.S. and Israel Just Pulled Out of UNESCO

The Background

The United States and Israel announced yesterday they are bailing on UNESCO over allegations the agency is biased against Israel. The Paris-based organization, which designates World Heritage Sites for special U.N. status and protection, has come under fire from both the U.S. and Israel in recent years over “discrimination” against the Jewish state. UNESCO director general Irina Bokova said she’s disappointed by the withdrawal, calling it a “loss to the United Nations family.” CBC

What Else You Need to Know

For those who weren’t quite sure, this is a pretty clear indication that the U.S. and Israel are thick as thieves. The U.S. was the first to announce that it would be leaving the organization, with Israel quickly following suit. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was obviously impressed by the U.S.’s bold move calling it “brave and moral” — though it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The U.S. has been withholding its funding for UNESCO since 2011, when the group gave Palestine full-member status, a move that both the U.S. and Israel voted against. Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, was also quite pleased with the announcement saying, “Today is a new day at the UN, where there is price to pay for discrimination against Israel.”

What’s Next?

These two nations may have been the first to withdraw, but they may not be the last. Britain, Japan and Brazil have not paid their dues to UNESCO for 2017, though it’s apparently for different reasons.