Israel has filed notice to withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) alongside the United States. Israel has blasted UNESCO in recent years over the organisation’s criticism of Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and its decision to grant full membership to Palestine in 2011.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said on Friday that she deeply regretted Israel’s decision to withdraw. Both Israel and the US – which filed its own withdrawal notice in October, noting that it would instead seek to establish a permanent observer mission to UNESCO – will officially cease membership as of December 31, 2018.
UNESCO is best known for its work to preserve heritage, including maintaining a list of World Heritage sites, and programmes to promote education in developing countries. Israel has nine sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, including the White City of Tel Aviv, the Incense Route along desert cities in the Negev, and the sites of human evolution at Mount Carmel.