The United States Now Plans to Leave UNESCO

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Britain has confirmed its continued commitment to membership of Unesco after the USA announced it was withdrawing from the United Nations cultural body. France's U.N. ambassador, Francois Delattre, had urged the United States to remain in UNESCO this week, saying the United States "must stay committed to world affairs".

That has clearly failed, as evidenced by its continued push to remove all Jewish references to religious sites in the Holy Lands. As Foreign Policy magazine points out, the US chose to pull out of the agency in 1984 during the Reagan administration, which at that time complained of - in the words of Foreign Policy - "corruption and what it considered an ideological tilt toward the Soviet Union against the West".

The AP quotes a State Department source.

An Arab-backed UNESCO resolution a year ago condemned Israeli's policies at religious sites in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

UNESCO is best known for designating World Heritage Sites such as the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and the Grand Canyon National Park.

Under UNESCO rules, the US withdrawal will become effective as of the end of December 2018.

The text denounced "all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem".

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It was founded in 1945 as allied countries "were looking for ways and means to reconstruct their systems of education once peace was restored" in the wake of World War II, according to the organization - which now has 195 members and eight associate members.

The organisation, which employs around 2,000 people worldwide, a lot of them 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.

Many saw the vote to include Palestine as evidence of long-running, ingrained anti-Israel bias within the United Nations, where Israel and its allies are far outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters.

The U.S. rejoined UNESCO during President George W. Bush's first term.

She paid tribute to what she said had been a meaningful relationship between UNESCO and the USA, saying: "since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful".

For differing reasons, Britain, Japan and Brazil are among states that have yet to pay their dues for 2017. "They chose to exit - this is absolutely in line with Trump's general logic today".

The agency is in the process of choosing a new leader, with Qatari and French former ministers Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari and Audrey Azoulay neck-and-neck in the contest to replace Ms Bokova. 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.