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USA And Israel Pull Out Of UN Education, Science And Culture Agreement

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has just lost two members, as the USA and Israel protest what they perceive as 'anti-Israel bias'.

Both countries filed notice of their withdrawal in 2017, which came into effect on New Year's Day.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated in 2017 that UNESCO was antisemitic as it "singled out the Jewish state for slander and condemnation."

He argued against the country's Western Wall being determined as part of occupied Palestinian territory and the Cave of Patriarchs as a Palestinian heritage site.

"In withdrawing, Israel and the United States made a clear moral statement that UNESCO’s antisemitism will no longer be tolerated," Netanyahu said.

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America and Israel stopped paying their annual fees to the UN body in 2011, after Palestine was voted in as a member state.

At the time of withdrawal, Israel owed UNESCO over $12 million ($8.5 million USD) with American debt sitting at $880 million ($617 million USD).

Laws passed in America in 1990 and 1994 state it cannot contribute financially to UN organisations that have accepted Palestine as a full member.

Now down to 193 member countries, UNESCO's purpose is to foster peace and promote global collaboration through education, science and culture.

The UNESCO World Heritage site of the Sydney Opera House. Image: Getty.

It was founded in 1946 and is perhaps best known for its World Heritage list, which has over 1000 global natural, cultural and mixed landmarks.

Nineteen of those landmarks are in Australia, including the Sydney Opera House, Kakadu National Park, Great Barrier Reef, Shark Bay and Uluru.

Israel has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites -- all of which are cultural -- while the United States has a combination of 23 natural, cultural and mixed.

America's former UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, didn't hesitate to offer her opinion on America and Israel's withdrawal from UNESCO on New Year's Day.

She tweeted the agency was "corrupt", "politically biased" and a "cesspool".

The US State Department is yet to comment on the country's UNESCO withdrawal, due to the American Government shutdown.

Featured image: Getty.