09:07 GMT +315 December 2019
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    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

    'Perhaps Withdraw From Planet Earth?' Iran's Zarif Mocks US, Israeli UNESCO Exit

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    Earlier, the United States and Israel jointly quit the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), a world-famous organisation aimed at building "peace through international cooperation in education, the sciences and culture." The allies cited "anti-Semitism" and "anti-Israel bias" as the reasons for their exit.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has commented on Washington and Tel Aviv's decision to withdraw from UNESCO by listing off the other international agreements and treaties the US has left recently, including the Iran nuclear deal, multiple trade deals, and the Paris Climate Convention.

    "Is anything left for the Trump Administration and its client regime to withdraw from? Perhaps from planet Earth altogether?" Zarif sarcastically asked.

    Earlier, the organisation dismissed accusations of anti-Semitism and bias, which the US and Israel used to justify their withdrawals, as "counterproductive and shameful." Outgoing UNESCO chief Irina Bokova called the US exit a "loss of multilateralism" and said Washington and UNESCO needed one another like never before.

    Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Zarif, have repeatedly criticised the US for its alleged growing unilateralism in world affairs under President Trump. Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the landmark 2015 agreement on Iran's nuclear program, last May, and reintroduced a series of tough sanctions against the Islamic Republic since then. The withdrawal was criticised by the JCPOA's other signatories, including Russia, China, and several European powers, who scrambled to save the agreement.

    The US, Israel and UNESCO have had rocky relations over the course of many decades; the US withdrew from the UN body in 1984, citing "radicalism" and "Israel bashing," before rejoining in 2003. Washington withdrew again on December 31, 2018, similarly citing "anti-Israel bias," with Tel Aviv quickly doing the same.

    Washington and Tel Aviv voiced their concerns with the organisation after Palestine was granted full membership in 2011. The US and Israel lost voting rights with UNESCO in 2013 after refusing to pay their dues following Palestine's admission.

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    reaction, exit, withdrawal, response, UNESCO, Javad Zarif, Iran, Israel, United States
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