Israel announces it will leave UNESCO by end of 2018

Israel announces it will leave UNESCO by end of 2018
Israel will follow the US and withdraw from the UN's cultural body, after accusing the global body of 'anti-Israel bias'.
2 min read
23 December, 2017
In July UNESCO declared the city of Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage site. [Getty]

Israel announced on Friday that it is leaving the UN's cultural body after the accusing the agency of "systematic attacks" on the country.

The decision comes months after the US said it would withdraw from the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) after accusing the global body of "anti-Israel bias".

The US was angered in 2011 when UNESCO members granted Palestine full membership, and withdrew funding from the organisation.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the decision was based on UNESCO's "attempts to disconnect Jewish history from the land of Israel".

He said the official letter of departure will be submitted before the year's end and that Israel would leave the organisation by the end of 2018.

Israel has long accused the cultural body of bias, most recently in July when UNESCO declared the occupied West Bank town of Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage site.

In May, UNESCO passed a resolution at the UN organisation's Paris headquarters which criticised actions taken by "Israel, the occupying power... to alter the character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem".

It particularly criticised Israel's annexation of Jerusalem following its occupation of the city's east in 1967, a move never recognised by the international community.

The US pulled out of UNESCO in the 1980s because Washington viewed it as mismanaged and used for political reasons, and then rejoined in 2003.