Israel 'mulls UNESCO return' after Trump-era departure

Israel 'mulls return to UNESCO' membership following Trump-era departure
2 min read
29 July, 2021
Tel Aviv quit UNESCO alongside Washington during Donald Trump's presidency back in 2019, after the US secretary of state at the time cited perceived hostility towards Israel.
Tel Aviv and Washington officially quit UNESCO during Trump's presidency in 2019 [Getty]

Israel is reportedly considering whether it should go back to being a member of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known better by the acronym UNESCO.

Unnamed "Israeli officials" told the Axios news website about the deliberation.

Tel Aviv quit the organisation alongside Washington during Donald Trump's presidency back in 2019, two years after the US announcement. 

Among the concerns cited by Rex Tillerson, Trump's Secretary of State at the time, was perceived hostility towards Israel.

The Jewish state made a similar move soon afterwards and had previously expressed anger with motions at the body that it saw as challenging Judaism's ties to Jerusalem, a city Israel illegally occupies.

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The latest news comes just weeks after Yair Lapid requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) look into the issue.

The foreign minister feels the Jewish state quitting global bodies due to alleged hostility served to weaken its international political objectives, according to Axios' official insiders.

Lapid is also Israel's alternative prime minister and is set to take the helm from Naftali Bennett in two years' time.

He was said to have been encouraged to return to UNESCO by World Jewish Congress chief Ronald Lauder, according to knowledgeable informants.

The International Organizations' Department within the MFA is shortly set to give Lapid its advice, the officials cited by Axios claimed.

Tel Aviv will work with the US regarding potential moves on UNESCO, according to a representative of Lapid who spoke with Axios.

In April this year, the UNESCO Executive Board accepted a motion that criticised Tel Aviv's efforts to alter the nature of the occupied Old City of Jerusalem, including under the law.

The motion said these measures were without effect.