Critics on Tuesday said the joint decision by the U.S. and Israel to leave the United Nations’ organization dedicated to promoting peace and education speaks volumes about the two increasing isolated countries’ worldview, as they continue to defend ongoing attacks on the rights of Palestinians.
Making official a decision that was announced in 2017, with Israel and the U.S. claiming UNESCO—the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization—has exhibited “anti-Israel bias,” the two countries officially left the body at midnight on New Year’s Day.
UNESCO was founded after World War II with the intention of fostering peace by “promoting cultural heritage and equal dignity between all cultures” and “strengthening bonds between nations.” It’s established more than 1,000 World Heritage sites in 167 countries as well as promoting education in developing countries.
In keeping with its mission, UNESCO has criticized Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and in 2011 granted Palestine full membership in the organization—a move Israel and the U.S. viewed as an attack and a reason to strangle UNESCO by refusing to pay their dues for several years.
The 195-member panel has suffered from funding shortages since then, with the U.S. owing $600 million in dues and Israel owing about $10 million.
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