US exit from UNESCO took Israel by surprise: Report

October 17, 2017 2:09 pm

A picture taken on October 12, 2017 shows the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation () headquarters in Paris. (By AFP)

An Israeli daily claims the Tel Aviv regime did not know in advance of a US decision to pull out of the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) over “anti-Israel bias.”
On Monday, Haaretz cited four Israeli and American officials as saying on condition of anonymity that the administration of US President Donald Trump had not coordinated the decision to leave UNESCO with Israel.
The senior Israeli officials said that in recent months the possibility of the US leaving the UN cultural arm had come up in talks between Israeli and US diplomats in New York and Paris. 
They said the issue was also brought up during the June visit to Israel by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. 
However, the sources added, at no point did the Americans give assurances to Israel that Washington had made a decision to pull out of UNESCO.
According to Haaretz, senior US officials also confirmed that Washington was not proactive about informing Israel of its decision.
“The deliberative process that led to the decision to withdraw was an internal US government process and was not discussed with any non-USG entities prior to the secretary’s decision,” a senior official said, using an abbreviation for the US government.
Washington announced on October 12 that it is withdrawing from UNESCO due to its “anti-Israel bias.”
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that Washington would establish an “observer mission” to replace its representation at the Paris-based agency.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Washington’s decision as “brave” and “moral,” saying he has instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare for Israel’s withdrawal as well.
UNESCO last month approved a motion that endorsed the right of the Palestinians to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and slammed Israeli provocations around the holy site.
In 2011, UNESCO became the first UN body to accept as a member. The move paved the way for the Palestinians to upgrade their status at the General Assembly a year later, among other reasons.
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