Jewish-French Candidate Defeats Qatari Runner-up in UNESCO Director-general Election

Audrey Azoulay, who is a Jewish former French culture minister, won against Qatar's Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari, who had been dogged by accusation of anti-Semitism

France's Audrey Azoulay, the newly-elected Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, France, October 13, 2017
France's Audrey Azoulay, the newly-elected Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, France, October 13, 2017 REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The United Nations' cultural agency has selected France's Audrey Azoulay as its new director general, two diplomatic sources said on Friday.

UNESCO's executive board voted 30 to 28 in favour of Azoulay, who is a Jewish former French culture minister, against Qatar's Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari, who had been dogged by accusation of anti-Semitism during the voting process.

It will now be put forward for approval to UNESCO's 195 members on Nov. 10. 

Reports of Azoulay's win come a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Israel's Foreign Ministry to lay the ground work for Israel's withdrawal from UNESCO, immediately following a similar announcement by the U.S., that said it was leaving the organization due to its anti-Israel bias.

Netanyahu welcomed Trump's decision to withdraw from UNESCO. "This is a brave and moral decision, because UNESCO has become a theater of the absurd. Instead of preserving history, it distorts it," he said.