Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - who is also Israel's foreign minister - gave instructions to "prepare for Israel's exit from UNESCO parallel with the US", Netanyahu's office said in a statement on Thursday.
"It's a courageous and moral decision", Netanyahu posted on his Facebook page.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said last month that UNESCO was promoting a "fake history" after it designated Hebron and two shrines - the Jewish Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Muslim Ibrahimi Mosque - as a "Palestinian World Heritage Site in Danger". The U.S. says it is seeking "permanent observer" status at the organization. US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, "As many of you know, we were in arrears to the tune of $550 million or so".
"And reflects USA concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO". Washington cited anti-Israel bias and the need for reform of the organization as the reason.
But Yeo said in the interview, "As the Trump administration considers how it's going to support girls, they should be working with UNESCO, not against it".
This isn't the first time the USA has pulled out of Unesco.
This UNESCO withdrawal is the latest in a series of disengagement by Donald Trump's administration, which has been busily scrapping worldwide trade deals and other global arrangements as it seeks to fulfil the campaign promise to "Make America Great Again" and perhaps score public-relations points with its conservative base.
Although it's tempting to dismiss the withdrawal as another display of the Trump administration's United Nations -bashing, there's certainly room to criticize UNESCO.
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Indeed, this decision by the U.S. could very well foreshadow further retrenchment of USA engagement with the United Nations system in general, in the face of the administration's call for changes to its structural and financial arrangements.
The Obama administration cut off funding to Unesco in 2011 as the group admitted Palestinians as full members, which the U.S. saw as undercutting its influence in countries around the world, the New York Times reported.
The Paris-based agency was founded after World War II to help preserve sites of important cultural and natural heritage, such as the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Grand Canyon.
Amid the vote for new Director-General, UNESCO delayed the latest vote on a pair of anti-Israel resolutions on Wednesday, marking the first time no anti-Israel resolutions were passed at a UNESCO session since 2011.
Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, expressed "profound regret" over the decision.
Bokova called the U.S.'s planned departure a loss for "the United Nations family" and for multilateralism. Israel recalled its ambassador to the Paris-based organization previous year after some governments supported a resolution that denounced Israel's policies on religious sites in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
It had pulled out of UNESCO before in 1984 when the Reagan administration said that it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests.