Trump is increasingly taking his distance from symbols of multilateralism. Since 2011, the United States had cut funding, accounting for 22% of the total budget. Unesco ‘s new general director to be voted today: Egypt and Qatar competing.
Paris (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The United States and Israel will withdraw their participation in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Announced yesterday, the decision follows years of controversy since the acceptance of Palestine as a member state in 2011.
Since then, the US has refused to pay its share of funding to the agency, for 22% of the total budget. At present, arrears amount to more than 500 million US dollars.
The withdrawal of the United States will become effective by the end of 2018 when Washington establishes a permanent observer mission. The State Department communique followed a tweet by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, announcing his intention to follow the American example.
Washington explains the decision by emphasizing the agency's "anti-Israel" bias, whose decisions in the past have led to Israeli dissatisfaction. One of the most recent is the statement defining the "Tomb of the Patriarchs" (mosque al-Haram al-Ibrahim for Muslims) in Hebron as a "Palestinian" world heritage site. In fact, according to Israeli statist Uri Avnery, the definition is misguided, because it is not related to the property of the site, but to its geographical location.
The USA's exit from UNESCO comes under what President of the Council on Foreign Relations organization, Richard Haas, described as "the doctrine of retreat" by US President Donald Trump. He is increasingly distancing himself from the symbols of multilateralism: in addition to withdrawing the United States from the Paris accords against global warming and a free trade agreement with Pacific Ocean countries, he is now threatening the nuclear agreement with Iran . In the next few hours, he is expected to address future US policies towards the Islamic Republic.
Meanwhile, Unesco has reached the diplomatic crisis that has been plagued by the Arab world and the Gulf for months: Egypt and Qatar, along with four other candidates, are campaigning to take the general direction of the agency. Yesterday, China withdrew its candidate, supporting the Egyptian one. This evening there will be the last vote to choose between the French and Qatari candidate.