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As UNESCO Says Its Only Wish for 2019 is World Peace, US and Israel Officially Ditch UN Body

Created specifically to "foster peace," said one critic of the nations' joint decision, "their withdrawal speaks volumes about their intent to foster only war."

Israel and the U.S. left UNESCO at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day, claiming "anti-Israel bias." (Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images)

Critics on Tuesday said the joint decision by the U.S. and Israel to leave the United Nations' organization dedicated to promoting peace and education speaks volumes about the two increasing isolated countries' worldview, as they continue to defend ongoing attacks on the rights of Palestinians.

Making official a decision that was announced in 2017, with Israel and the U.S. claiming UNESCO—the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization—has exhibited "anti-Israel bias," the two countries officially left the body at midnight on New Year's Day.

UNESCO was founded after World War II with the intention of fostering peace by "promoting cultural heritage and equal dignity between all cultures" and "strengthening bonds between nations." It's established more than 1,000 World Heritage sites in 167 countries as well as promoting education in developing countries.

In keeping with its mission, UNESCO has criticized Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem and in 2011 granted Palestine full membership in the organization—a move Israel and the U.S. viewed as an attack and a reason to strangle UNESCO by refusing to pay their dues for several years.

The 195-member panel has suffered from funding shortages since then, with the U.S. owing $600 million in dues and Israel owing about $10 million.

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Contrasting with the message sent by the two countries—which last year celebrated the U.S. embassy's move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem while Israeli troops killed dozens of Palestinians in border protests during the Great March of Return—UNESCO shared its own New Year's Day wish with the world on Tuesday, calling for peace.

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