Sunday, 6 January 2008

Durban II - Israel Launches Bid To Discredit Racism Parley

From an article in the The New York Sun:
"…Israel and its supporters in America cited Libya's chairmanship of a U.N.committee planning the anti-racism conference - convened to follow up on a similar conference held in 2001 at Durban, South Africa - in order to alert Western countries of the perils of funding and attending the event.
While no country, including Israel, has explicitly declared its intention to boycott the 2009 conference known as Durban II, American-based organizations, as well as planners at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, have launched a campaign to convince countries such as Canada, Australia, and members of the European Union to avoid the conference. Israel's Foreign Ministry plans to host a February meeting in Jerusalem to plan the campaign.
"No decision was made" as to whether America would be represented at the racism conference or at what level, a spokesman for the American mission to the United Nations, Richard Grenell, said. "Currently what we are focused on is trying to fix the funding issue." America, as well as some of its European and other allies, argues that the conference should be funded by its supporters and not through contributions imposed on U.N. member states according to their wealth.
America cited a $6.8 million allotment for the racism conference in the U.N. biannual budget - which according to estimates may reach $5.2 billion — as its reason for separating from the rest of the U.N. members last month, when it cast a rare opposing vote against the secretary-general's proposed budget. America is responsible for 22% of the U.N. budget, while supporters of the racism conference come mostly from poorer countries. Its planning committee includes, in addition to Libya, such countries as Cuba and Iran.
"The choice of Libya as head of the planning committee tells you everything you need to know about Durban II," the deputy director-general for international organizations at Israel's Foreign Ministry, Aharon Leshno Ya'ar. "If the planning continues in the direction we think it will, I hope European countries will join us" in avoiding the conference.
The European Union, for now, "remains on board" as a Durban II participant, a Western European diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. "But there is still a debate, which we are following very carefully, on the modalities and agenda" of the conference. Other western diplomats also said it was too early to decide on attendance. …
The 2001 Durban conference, convened to highlight the perils of racism and related discrimination, became entangled in anti-Western and anti-Israel politics, prompting a walkout by the American and Israeli officials in attendance."

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