United States: Burning Bridges
The Secretary of State of the Trump Administration, Rex Tillerson, announced the withdrawal of the country from UNESCO.
With its abandonment of international pacts, economic agreements and now cultural organizations, the United States is destroying its international integration, one bridge at a time.
According to Reuters, the US State Department issued a statement on Thursday declaring that the country will begin the process of withdrawal from UNESCO - an agency for education and culture from the UN - from December 31 on.
This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO”, the statement read.
The decision would have been brewing for months, according to The Guardian’s analysis, and would also have to do with "budget cuts" by the Trump Administration, whose fiscal plan for the next year “doesn’t include any provision for the possibility that UNESCO funding restrictions might be lifted”.
However, the State Department assured that the United States "will “remain engaged … as a non-member observer state in order to contribute US views, perspectives and expertise.”
UNESCO’s director general, Irina Bokova, said that she had received formal notification of the country's decision by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and expressed "deep regret over the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from UNESCO", asserting that "the decision is a loss for multilateralism and for the UN family."
The body is currently in the process of voting to replace Bokova, whose term as director is coming to an end, and the favorite candidate is Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari, representative of Qatar, whose figure represents a more marked distance between the UNESCO and shared interests between the United States and Israel.
This was stated by Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, who described the secret voting process as "bad news for the organization and unfortunately also for Israel”.
The UN agency had already incited disagreements over a series of decisions, as The Guardian continues, including the inclusion of Hebron - a city south of the occupied Palestinian territories - as a Palestinian "world heritage site”.
During October, Israel proceeded to "suspend cooperation" after the "agency adopted a draft resolution" that "denied the deep Jewish historical connection to the holy sites in Jerusalem."
And the United States will not hesitate to support its historic ally.
This is not the first time that the United States has withdrawn from UNESCO. It had already happened during the Ronald Reagan administration, and its reincorporation was thanks to the initiatives of George W. Bush.