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Audrey Azoulay, the new Culture and Communications Adviser to French President Francois Hollande.

The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Audrey Azoulay, expressed Friday in a statement her “deep regret” at Israel’s official withdrawal from the world body, submitted the same day.

“I regret this deeply,” she said. “It is my conviction that it is inside UNESCO and not outside it that states can best seek to overcome differences in the organization’s fields of competence.”


Israel joins the United States, which submitted its own withdrawal from UNESCO in October, citing the organization’s severe anti-Israel bias and its need for reform.

Both terminations take effect on December 31, 2018. Both countries have left the door open in their documents to rescind the decision if the agency changes its attitude and behavior prior to their termination date.

Israeli envoy to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-HaCohen said last week in a statement that UNESCO “broke all records of hypocrisy, incitement and lies against Israel and the Jewish people. Israel and the Jewish nation . . . should be the first to donate to this organization and the last to leave. But in the ‘Theater of the Absurd’ that is UNESCO, sane countries have nothing to find.”

He added, however, that the other reason had to do with Israel’s support for the United States: “For many years, the U.S. made sure that Israel doesn’t walk alone . . .the U.S. left UNESCO for Israel, and it is our moral duty that it doesn’t do it alone.”