Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses a United Nations General Assembly.
(photo credit: MIKE SEGAR / REUTERS)
Israel quit UNESCO because the organization is manipulated by enemies of the Jewish state, Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said on Tuesday.
He spoke in response to the withdrawal of Israel and the United States from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Monday night.
Both countries had announced that they would leave UNESCO in October 2017 over anti-Israeli bias. Their withdrawal went into effect on Tuesday, January 1.
“UNESCO is a body that continually rewrites history, including by erasing the Jewish connection to Jerusalem,” Danon said.
“Israel will not be a member of an organization whose goal is to deliberately act against us, and that has become a tool manipulated by Israel’s enemies,” he said.
Former ambassador to the US, MK Michael Oren, compared UNESCO to Israel’s biblical and modern enemies.
“Today is the first day that the State of Israel is outside of UNESCO,” Oren said. “UNESCO has joined a long list – Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Ayatollahs – who deny the eternal connection between the Jewish nation and its capital of Jerusalem. We will be in our capital forever and UNESCO like all those who came before it, will fail,” he said.
Neither the Foreign Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office nor the United States issued any new statements on the matter.
Israel has been a member state of UNESCO since 1949. In the last 17 years, the global cultural body has registered nine sites within the country on its World Heritage List.
In 2011, both Israel and the US halted payment of their annual fees after UNESCO became the first UN body to recognize Palestine as a state in 2011. Israel now owes UNESCO more than $8.5 million and the US debt has reached upwards of $617 million.
Both countries lost voting rights in the organization in 2013 over their failure to pay dues, but maintained all other participation rights.
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