Directorate-general of the UNESCO: The French Audrey Azoulay elected

Directorate-general of the UNESCO: The French Audrey Azoulay elected

Directorate-general of the UNESCO: The French Audrey Azoulay elected

UNESCO has been critical of Tel Aviv in the past, and its decision to nominate the West Bank city of Hebron as a Palestinian world heritage site angered Israel, which wanted its long Jewish history to be recognised.

Azoulay's late entry into the leadership race in March annoyed many UNESCO member states who thought that since France hosts the Paris-based agency it shouldn't field a candidate.

Beijing, Oct 13 China has withdrawn its candidate for the position of UNESCO chief in favour of Egypt's nominee, a day after the U.S. and Israel quit the UN's cultural body accusing it of being biased against the Jewish state.

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.

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Spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remarks when asked to comment on the decisions of the US and Israel to withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Azoulay narrowly beat Qatar's Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari in the final 30-28 vote after she won a run off against a third finalist from Egypt earlier Friday.

UNESCO's general assembly will have to sign off on the board's pick next month, but it's seen as a formality.

The voting process itself has been highly politicized.

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Egypt's foreign ministry says it is demanding an inquiry into alleged "violations" during the elections for the top position at the U.N.'s cultural agency.

The UNESCO vote comes as Egypt and three other Arab nations continue a months-long boycott of Qatar over allegations that the government funds extremists and has overly warm ties to Iran.

The body's 58 board members have been gathered in the French capital since last Friday selecting a candidate. Bokova expressed "profound regret" at the US decision and defended UNESCO's reputation.

Haley also criticized UNESCO for "keeping Syrian dictator Bashar Assad on a UNESCO human rights committee even after his murderous crackdown on peaceful protesters".

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