The Biden Administration is pressuring Israel to renew its membership in the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization, UNESCO, Israel Hayom reports.
The issue has been raised many times in talks held by senior government officials with their Israeli counterparts, including last week's meetings in Israel with US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Israel announced its withdrawal from UNESCO in 2017, just days after the United States did so. The reason was a series of anti-Israel decisions by the organization, chief among them the declaration of eastern Jerusalem as occupied territory. In Israel, it was stated at the time that it was unthinkable that Israel's control of a place like the Western Wall would be defined by the UN as an "occupation."
The Biden Administration, in contrast to the Trump Administration's approach, advocates cooperation with the UN and its institutions - and one of the steps the US is interested in is a return to full membership in UNESCO. The United States will not transfer funds to UN agencies that have accepted the Palestinian Authority as a member state - a move that UNESCO has taken in spite of protests from Israel and the US.
Then Biden Administration cannot find a majority in Congress for its position in the current political climate, hence the pressure on Israel. The administration believes that if Israel agrees to return to the UN organization, opposition among Republicans in Congress will be softer, and the law that will allow payments to UNESCO will find a majority. Israel has so far not responded to American pressure.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on Israel to withdraw from UNESCO in 2016, when he served as Education Minister. Bennett wrote at the time that UNESCO was rewarding terrorism. " "Last night's decision denies history, and backs terror. Those who give prizes to supporters of jihad in Jerusalem mere days after two Jews were murdered in the city, may very well be the next in line. The Western world needs to stand up against UNESCO and against handing prizes to terror supporters. Just like we work against Islamic terror in Aleppo and Palmyra, we need to work fight political terror in Jerusalem. The next terrorist will gain legitimacy from yesterday's sick decision. Cutting Jerusalem off from Israel will create a domino effect that will affect the entire Western world," he said.