Israel Follows USA Lead in Withdrawing From UNESCO

Israel has filed notice to withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) alongside the United States.

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In recent years, Israel has blasted UNESCO over the organization’s criticism of Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem (Judea and Samaria) and its decision to grant full membership to Palestine in 2011.

Both Israel and the US – which filed its own withdrawal notice in October, noting that it would instead seek to establish a permanent observer mission to UNESCO - will officially cease membership as of December 31, 2018. 

In announcing its withdrawal, the US Department of State noted "anti-Israel bias" and "the need for fundamental reform" within the organization. Shortly afterward, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would also pull out of UNESCO on the grounds that the body had become "a theatre of the absurd".