Israel says Trump UNESCO pullout means 'new era' at United Nations

Danny Danon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, said the United States' decision to pull out of UNESCO marked "a new era" at the UN (AFP Photo/Jewel Samad ) (AFP/File)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israel's UN ambassador on Thursday said Washington's decision to pull out of the world body's culture and education agency showed there was a "price to pay for discrimination against Israel".

Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement the decision marked "a new era" at the United Nations, after the US State Department said the United States had decided to leave UNESCO, in part due to "continuing anti-Israel bias".

UNESCO, which is best known for producing the list of World Heritage sites that includes the Grand Canyon and other US attractions, has been the scene of diplomatic flare-ups in recent years after Arab countries succeeded in passing a number of resolutions critical of Israel.

In May, Israel was infuriated by a resolution identifying it as "the occupying power" in the disputed city of Jerusalem and calling on it to rescind any move changing the city's "character and status".

The text denounced "all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem".

Danon said: "Today's decision is a turning point for UNESCO. The organisation's absurd and shameful resolutions against Israel have consequences."

Washington opposes any move by UN bodies to recognise the Palestinians as a state, believing that this must await a negotiated Middle East peace deal.

US President Donald Trump's administration is reviewing many of its multilateral commitments, pursuing what he calls an "America First" policy.