Photo: Reuters
Anti-Israel rally during 'Durban I' (Archives)
Photo: Reuters

White House to Jewish leaders: US won't attend 'Durban II'

In conference Prominent Jewish leaders told US will not take part in Geneva conference against racism unless anti-Israel clauses amended. State Department spokesman says US hasn't seen enough progress towards its demands

WASHINGTON – Senior White House officials informed prominent members of the Jewish community that the US will boycott the World Conference against Racism next week in Geneva unless a draft conference document viewed as hostile toward Israel is amended.


Samantha Power - top advisor to President Barack Obama - and Director for Near East Affairs at the National Security Council Dan Shapiro informed the Jewish leaders of the decision during a conference call held on Wednesday.


One of the Jewish leaders said he was "relieved", but did not elaborate on the conversation.


Speaking to reporters State Department Spokesman Robert Wood said: "We have said that there needs to be a viable text that must not reaffirm in total the 2001 Durban declaration and program of action. And also we have some concerns in the text that support restrictions on freedom of expression."


Asked whether this meant that the US would not be attending, Wood answered: "At this moment, we have not seen enough progress. So that's where it stands right now."


The preliminary conference document, which was initiated by Iran, Cuba and other third world countries, ran 45 pages and called for reparations for slavery, condemned the "validation of Islamophobia," and asserted that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is grounded in racism.


In an attempt to save the anti-racism conference, Russia initiated a new draft which no longer included the negative references to Israel. However, the new document ratifies "Durban I" – the concluding document of the first World Conference against Racism held in South Africa in 2001, which includes a harsh condemnation of Israel.


Former US President George W. Bush boycotted 'Durban 1', but Obama did want the US to attend next week's conference in Geneva, and even sent representatives to a preliminary meeting held a few weeks ago. The decision to boycott 'Durban II' was reached after the representatives said the US lacked the clout to omit the condemnation of Israel from the conference document.  


פרסום ראשון: 04.15.09, 09:14
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