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Israel to withdraw from UN cultural body along with US: statement

© AFP | A picture taken on October 12, 2017 shows the logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris

JERUSALEM (AFP) - 

Israel will withdraw from the UN's cultural and education body after a United States decision to do the same on accusations of bias against the Jewish state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday.

"The prime minister instructed the foreign ministry to prepare Israel's withdrawal from the organisation alongside the United States," Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

Netanyahu "welcomes the decision by President (Donald) Trump to withdraw from UNESCO. This is a courageous and moral decision because UNESCO has become the theatre of the absurd and because instead of preserving history it distorts it."

Netanyahu's decision came hours after the US State Department said the United States would pull out from the UN body, in part due to "continuing anti-Israel bias".

Israel has long been at loggerheads with UNESCO, particularly over its decision to admit the Palestinians as members in 2011.

In July, the UN body declared the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank an endangered World Heritage site, delighting Palestinians and infuriating Israel.

Netanyahu announced a $1-million cut in funding to the United Nations, saying the UNESCO vote ignored Jewish ties to the site.

It followed a UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem in May that strongly criticised the Jewish state's occupation of the eastern part of the city.

At the time, Netanyahu said the "absurd" vote denied the Jewish connection to the city.

© 2017 AFP