The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has voiced “deep regret” over Israel’s decision to withdraw from the agency.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, while expressing the regret, said she was convinced that it “is inside UNESCO and not outside it” that States could best seek to overcome differences in the fields of competence.
Azoulay noted that she had received official notice from the Government of Israel on the country’s withdrawal from the agency effective from Dec. 31, 2018, a decision which was announced on Oct. 12, 2017.
“A Member of UNESCO since 1949, Israel has a rightful place inside the United Nations agency that is dedicated to education, culture and science,” she said.
She added that Israel has a rightful place inside an institution committed to the defence of freedom of expression, the prevention of all forms of anti-semitism and racism.
According to her, UNESCO has developed a unique programme of education about the Holocaust and the prevention of genocide.
“Israel also has a rightful place inside an institution that is among the most active in promoting dialogue among cultures, fighting violent extremism and conserving heritage affected, notably, by the destructive acts of terrorist organisations.
“In the face of disagreements among Member States, which lead to votes for which they are responsible, engaging fully in the work of UNESCO makes possible sustained dialogue, cooperation and partnerships that are more necessary than ever.
“And that I committed to support when I took office,” Azoulay stressed.

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