The U.S. says it has had enough with what it calls continued bias against its long-time ally, Israel.
The surprise move came in a press release from the State Department, which also cited the need for fundamental reform of UNESCO, and took outright issue with the amount on money in arrears incurred by Palestine.
The U.S. Charge D'affaires also pointed out that UNESCO is being abused by political motives.
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" This venue has become politicized, undermining the work of UNESCO across its mandate. It's become a venue for anti-Israel bias, and unfortunately we are taking the decision to withdraw from UNESCO at this time."
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said she regretted Washington's decision.
She said the UN's cultural and educational agency needed the U.S. to fulfill its wide mandate from promoting education to eradicating poverty.
Estimates show the U.S. has been providing a fifth of the agency's funding.
After the withdrawal, which takes effect on December 31st next year based on UNESCO regulations, the State Department said the U.S. will only be serving as a non-member observer.
Following the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his country was also preparing to pull out.
In response, Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative a political party comprising mostly secular intellectuals . told Al Jazeera News, the decision demonstrates the Trump administration's "complete and total bias" towards Israel.
He added the behavior is counterproductive and shameful.
The latest move makes UNESCO the third major international body that the Trump administration has withdrawn from following the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate accord.
Park Jong-hong, Arirang News.