The UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák is also "concerned that the decision by the United States to withdraw could have adverse impacts upon the important work of UNESCO", according to a statement from his spokesperson. Washington intends to participate in the fulfillment by UNESCO of a number of its functions, including the protection of the world cultural heritage, the protection of press freedom, the promotion of scientific cooperation and the educational process.
A press statement from the State Department says the decision was also based on "the need for fundamental reform in the organization" as well as stacking up bills the USA owes UNESCO.
As a permanent observer to the organization, the United States would still be able to voice its opinion about matters to the body, but not vote on issues as a member.
"This truth has become even more evident today, at a time when the growth of extremism and terrorism calls for new long-term solutions for peace and freedom, in the context of combating racism and anti-Semitism, in combating ignorance and discrimination", she said.
She said: "The United States will continue to evaluate all agencies within the United Nations system through the same lens".
While the Trump administration had been preparing for a likely withdrawal from UNESCO for months, the timing of the State Department's statement Thursday was unexpected.
Israel has been irked by resolutions that diminish its historical connection to the Holy Land and have instead named ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites. The U.S. stopped making payments to the agency in 2011, but maintained an office at its Paris headquarters in the hopes of encouraging a change of course from behind the scenes.
UNESCO's executive board plans to select her successor Friday in a secret ballot. Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley has repeatedly denounced these actions, and said the USA was "evaluating" whether or not it should continue as a member of the organization. After he was elected but before he became president, Mr. Trump made an extraordinary intervention on the world stage by criticizing the Obama administration's decision not to block a United Nations resolution criticizing Israeli settlements.
In 2011 the United States cut its funding to the agency - slashing its budget by 22 percent - in protest at its decision to grant full membership to the Palestine.
In July, the agency again delighted Palestinians when it declared the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank an endangered World Heritage site. It referred to the holy site only using Muslim names and prompted angry reactions from Israeli politicians.
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