Egypt out of race for UNESCO chief, endorses French candidate

Egypt out of race for UNESCO chief, endorses French candidate

Al-Kawari came first in the ballot, with 20 out of 58 votes on UNESCO's Executive Board.

The six candidates who made it to the vote were Moushira Khattab (Egypt), Audrey Azoulay (France), Polad Bülbüloglu (Azerbaijan), Juan Alfonso Fuentes Soria (Guatemala), Pham Sanh Chau (Vietnam), Qian Tang (China), and former Qatari Minister of Culture Hamad Abdul Aziz al-Kawari, who is now the cultural affairs adviser to the Emir of Qatar.

The final vote comes the day after the USA and Israel said they plan to pull out of the Paris-based organization over perceived anti-Israel bias.

However, UNESCO does not observe the kind of rotation by world region which is used when choosing a UN secretary general. "We believe in universal values". If two candidates remain tied at the end, lots are drawn to decide the victor.

The book to which Al-Kawari contributed a preface - entitled Jerusalem in the Eyes of the Poets and published by his own Ministry of Culture in 2013 - traffics in classical antisemitic conspiracy theories, claiming that Jews enjoy complete control of the Western media, and that Israel is responsible for the entire range of conflicts and wars in the Middle East. Arab intellectuals urged French President Emmanuel Macron to withdraw his support for her.

Egypt's candidate for the post of Director-General of UNESCO, Moushira Khattab, passed the third round of the organization's elections held in Paris, France, where no candidate has gained an absolute majority of votes so far.

UNESCO's general assembly will have to sign off on the board's pick.

While the Trump administration had been preparing for a likely withdrawal from UNESCO for months, the timing of the State Department's statement Thursday was unexpected.

Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called UNESCO's July designation of Hebron's Old City and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as Palestinian territory the latest of many "foolish actions" that had made the agency "a chronic embarrassment".