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After quitting over 'anti-Israel bias,' US to rejoin UNESCO to counter China

The United States is seeking readmission to UNESCO, the cultural heritage agency that former President Donald Trump quit over alleged anti-Israel bias.
A photo shows the UNESCO logo during a speech by its director-general to announce the United States' request to return to the institution, at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, on June 12, 2023. The United States plans to rejoin UNESCO from July this year, ending a lengthy dispute that saw Washington end its membership in 2018, the UN cultural agency announced on June 12. (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP) (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images)

The United States plans to rejoin the United Nations’ educational, science and cultural organization and pay back hundreds of millions in unpaid dues six years after the Trump administration withdrew from UNESCO over what it deemed an anti-Israel bias.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement Monday that the Biden administration had notified her of its intention to rejoin the agency next month, contingent on the approval of a “concrete financing plan” by a majority of member states. 

The Paris-based organization the United States co-founded after World War II is best known for its designations of World Heritage sites from the Taj Mahal to Machu Picchu.

The Trump administration withdrew from UNESCO in 2017, citing resolutions on religious sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank it said were biased against Israel as well as a decision to label Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank as a Palestinian site. Israel also quit from the agency in protest. 

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