Earlier, Washington officials told AP that the United States is withdrawing from UNESCO after repeated criticism of resolutions that the Trump administration perceived as anti-Israeli.
UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said she received official notification from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, adding she expressed "profound regret at the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from UNESCO." In a statement released later on Thursday, Bokova said: "At the time when the fight against violent extremism calls for renewed investment in education, in dialogue among cultures to prevent hatred, it is deeply regrettable that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations agency leading these issues." She added that in 2011, when the US stopped funding the organization, "I was convinced UNESCO had never mattered as much for the United States, or the United States for UNESCO." Vladimir Tolstoy, the Russian president’s cultural adviser, said that the United States’ withdrawal from the body was a bad sign.
However, the State Department has maintained a mission at the agency’s Paris headquarters.
According to Amir Oren, a senior correspondent and columnist for Haaretz, although the State Department also gave other reasons for withdrawing from UNESCO such as the questions of debt and organizational mismanagement, the US may also be affirming its support for Israel.
Archibald MacLeish, the first US member of UNESCO’s governing board, authored the preamble to its 1945 Constitution, according to the State Department.