Israel to formally announce withdrawal from UNESCO

Israel signaled its intention to leave the education, scientific and cultural body in October, hours after the US announced its withdrawal.

December 23, 2017 10:17
2 minute read.
Israel to formally announce withdrawal from UNESCO

A general view of the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. (photo credit: REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Friday to submit a formal letter to the organization's director-general announcing Israel's departure from the UN body.

"The letter will be submitted by Ambassador Carmel Sharma-Hacohen in the coming days, certainly before the end of the year," said Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon.

The UNESCO constitution holds that a country's withdrawal from the organization takes effect on 31 December of the year following that during which the notice was given. Accordingly, Israel's departure will become effective on 31 December 2018.

Israel signaled its intention to leave the body in October, hours after the US announced its withdrawal. Netanyahu praised the American declaration, calling it "a brave and moral decision, because UNESCO has become the theater of the absurd and because instead of preserving history, it distorts it."

The US listed "concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO," as reasons for its departure.

Then-director-general of UNESCO Irina Bokova expressed "profound regret" at the decision. Bokova was succeeded last month by Audrey Azoulay, France's former culture minister, who became the first Jewish head of the agency.

Israel's envoy to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen puts the resolution on Jerusalem in the 'trashbin of history' (EREZ LICHTFELD / PERMANENT MISSION OF ISRAEL TO THE UN)

Israel's decision to formally withdraw comes in the immediate aftermath of Thursday's UN General Assembly vote condemning US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but also following a string of anti-Israel resolutions adopted by the body.

In the past two years, three UNESCO resolutions disavowing Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem have been adopted. In July, UNESCO recognized the Old City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs as endangered Palestinian world heritage sites.

"That's worse than fake news, that's fake history," Netanyahu stated during his United Nations General Assembly address in September, referring to the Hebron resolution.
UNESCO declares the Cave of the Patriarchs as Palestinian, angering Israel (Reuters)

According to Channel 10, Sharma-Hacohen is set to meet Azoulay in the coming days and suggest that Israel could still remain within UNESCO, should the organization change its perceived anti-Israel behavior prior to the country's withdrawal becoming effective next year.

In 2011, UNESCO became the first United Nations body to recognize the State of Palestine as a full member state. In response, Israel and the US froze their annual funding of the body and, in 2014, both countries lost their voting rights.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

July 20, 2019
Shmuli: Peretz must make deals with Barak, Meretz


Cookie Settings