Illustrative: The 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, in New York, New York, USA, 26 September 2020

In major win for Israel, 31 countries to boycott anti-Semitic UN conference

Nations convinced to shun Durban Conference under Israeli diplomatic pressure, spearheaded by Lapid; FM says move demonstrates Israel's political power on the world stage

Itamar Eichner |
Published: 09.20.21, 10:33
Thirty-one nations have so far decided to boycott a UN meeting marking the 20th anniversary of the Durban World Conference on Racism later this week due to the event's anti-Semitic nature in the past, marking a major diplomatic win for Israel.
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  • The first conference was held in Durban, South Africa from August 31 through September 8, 2001, and covered several controversial issues, including redress for transatlantic slavery and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    The general debate of the General Assembly's seventy-fifth session during Al-Moalem's speech at the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, in New York, New York, USA, 26 September 2020
    The general debate of the General Assembly's seventy-fifth session during Al-Moalem's speech at the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, in New York, New York, USA, 26 September 2020
    Illustrative: The 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, in New York, New York, USA, 26 September 2020
    (Photo: EPA)
    The United States and Israeli delegations withdrew from the event over objections to a draft document equating Zionism with racism.
    The conference's goal was to tackle the issue of racism, but quickly devolved into an openly anti-Israel event, led by Palestinian and boycott groups.
    Since then, a follow-up conference has been held at the UN General Assembly every five years. Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited to speak as a guest of honor in the event's 2009 edition and called for the destruction of Israel.
    Earlier this year, the United States and Israel voted against the approval of the UN budget for 2021 in protest of the organization's decision to hold the rally at this year's General Assembly.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    "כלכלה תמורת ביטחון": לפיד מציג את תוכניתו להסדרה ברצועת עזה
    "כלכלה תמורת ביטחון": לפיד מציג את תוכניתו להסדרה ברצועת עזה
    Foreign Minister Yair Lapid
    (Photo: Go-Live)
    The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism includes general hatred toward Jews, Holocaust denial and "claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor."
    Foreign Minister Yair Lapid led the efforts to boycott the commemorative event, having spoken to dozens of his counterparts around the world. Other Israeli diplomats also took part in the boycott campaign, spearheaded by Israel's Permanent Representative to the UN Gilad Erdan.
    "Unlike the previous government that raised its hands ahead of this conference, we were able to take this thing and prove that the world is not as against us as we think," Lapid said.
    "Reaching a situation where 31 countries boycott the Durban Conference is proof of a political power that has not been around for a long time, and that [former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's] whole theory that everyone is against us is incorrect."
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    The UN General Assembly during a session in 2017
    The UN General Assembly during a session in 2017
    The UN General Assembly during a session in 2017
    (Photo: AP)
    As of Sunday, 20 countries have already officially announced their intentions to boycott the conference, including the United States, Canada, Australia, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, France, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, New Zealand, Slovenia and Slovakia.
    Eleven other nations have also decided to pull out from the event but have yet to issue an official statement.
    Other nations that will take part in the conference, such as Belgium, were convinced to downgrade their delegates participating in the event.
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