Israel has officially withdrawn from UN heritage agency UNESCO.
In October 2017, Israel said it will quit the UN agency, citing what it described as UNESCO’s “bias” toward the Palestinians.
The withdrawal decision went into effect on Tuesday.
“UNESCO is a body that continues to rewrite history, among other things, by attempts to erase the Jewish connection to Jerusalem,” Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post newspaper. He added:
Israel will not be a member of an organisation dedicated to acting against it and which has a tool manipulated by Israel’s enemies
Israel joined UNESCO in 1949.
Israel has been furious at UNESCO after the UN agency adopted several resolutions asserting Palestinian rights in the cities of Jerusalem and Hebron.
In October 2017, UNESCO decided to place the city of Hebron and the Haram al-Ibrahimi Mosque, which is revered by both Muslims and Jews, on the World Heritage List.
Also in 2017, UNESCO voted in favour of a resolution that denied any connection between Al-Aqsa Mosque and Judaism; Israel relies on such a claim in recognising the Muslim holy site as the “Temple Mount”.
In May 2018, UNESCO ruled that Israel is an “occupying power” and condemned illegal Israeli activity in occupied East Jerusalem a month later. Another resolution was adopted by UNESCO in June 2018 that considered Jerusalem’s Old City and its walls as among the endangered sites of the world heritage.
In response, Israel and the US have cut funding to UNESCO on multiple occasions, accusing it of “anti-Semitism”.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel since 1967 – might one day serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.