Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (r.) with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (r.) with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid Ohad Zwigenberg/Flash90

According to reports emerging from the Prime Minister’s Office, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid are in the process of assessing whether to accede to the request of the United States and rejoin UNESCO, the United Nations’ education, culture, and science branch.

The Israel Hayom newspaper notes that the issue has come up frequently during discussions between senior government officials and their American counterparts, as it did again last week during meetings held in Israel between Israeli officials and the American ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

The new reports from the Prime Minister’s Office did not state when a decision would be made on the matter.

On Sunday, Alon Ushpiz, the director-general of the Foreign Ministry, admitted that the United States had made a number of requests of Israel to renew its membership in UNESCO, saying: “The United States is not pressuring Israel on this issue. The United States is simply thinking about rejoining UNESCO, and we must now think about how to deal with the issue of UNESCO within the general framework of our relations with the Palestinian Authority, given that the PA has been accorded recognition as a ‘state’ within UNESCO. This is not an issue that can be considered separately from the many other issues the organization deals with. This is an issue that exerts an influence on how the international community perceives the Palestinian Authority, and our position is that the PA is not a ‘state.’”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid stated that, “If the United States has (rightfully) decided to leave UNESCO, then certainly Israel must leave too, on the very same day. We cannot have a situation where the United States leaves due to the organization’s treatment of Israel – and Israel itself remains.”

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