JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel announced Wednesday it is reducing its required payment to the United Nations by $2 million following recent "anti-Israel" votes.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the decision to reduce the annual payment was taken following votes critical of Israel at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.
The General Assembly requires all 193 U.N. member states to pay a percentage of the United Nations' regular budget, based on their GDP. According to the U.N. Secretariat, Israel is expected to pay about $11 million this year, or 0.43 percent of the regular budget.
Under Article 19 of the U.N. Charter, any country in arrears of its dues payments in an amount that equals or exceeds the contributions due for two preceding years can lose its vote in the General Assembly. As of March 15, three countries were banned from voting because of arrears - Libya, Sudan and Venezuela.
Israel's refusal to pay $2 million of its dues will put the country in arrears, but it won't immediately lose its vote in the world body.
Nahshon said the money held back from the United Nations will be used for development projects in countries that support Israel in international organizations.
Israel and the United States decry what they see as an entrenched U.N. bias against the Jewish state and an obsession with the Palestinian issue at the expense of other crises and human rights issues around the globe. But Israel is especially critical of the makeup of the Human Rights Council whose members include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China and Cuba.
The highest percentage that a country can pay to the U.N. regular budget was cut from 25 percent to 22 percent in response to demands by the United States, the world organization's largest contributor. It pays 22 percent of the $2.6 billion regular budget, with Japan second at about 9.7 percent.
The United States is seeking unspecified cuts in payments to the United Nations, especially for the 16 far-flung U.N. peacekeeping operations that are financed through a separate budget.
Associated Press writer Ian Deitch reported this story in Jerusalem and AP writer Edith M. Lederer reported from the United Nations.