USA to Pull Out of UNESCO Amid Palestinian Tensions


USA has officially pulled out of UNESCO citing the growing influence in support of Palestine and its anti-Israel stance.

There has been no immediate comment from the USA government.

In a statement, the State Department said it notified UNESCO director Irina Bokova on Thursday of the decision.

Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization known for its designation of world heritage sites, is a global development agency with missions that include promoting sex education, literacy, clean water and equality for women.

Washington will remain in the organization "as a non-member observer state in order to contribute U.S. views, perspectives and expertise", the statement said.

The US State Department confirmed the country is officially withdrawing from UNESCO, the UN's cultural body it helped found back in 1945.

The lack of staffing and funding plans for UNESCO by the U.S. have been accompanied by repeated denunciations of UNESCO by senior U.S. officials, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

It is not the first time the US has withdrawn. The move is to take effect on December 31, Washington announced.

US officials said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the decision and that it was not discussed with other countries but an internal USA government deliberation. The withdrawal was confirmed Thursday by US officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to be publicly named discussing the decision.

The Trump administration has been preparing for a likely withdrawal for months, and a decision was expected before the end of the year, according to USA officials.