The Organization of Economic Cooperation Development (OECD) is threatening to cancel a conference scheduled to take place in Jerusalem in late October, Ynet learned.
A letter sent by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria implied that statements made by Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov suggesting that by holding the conference in Jerusalem the group recognizes the city as Israel's capital may jeorpordise the meeting.
"In order to go forward with this meeting on the current basis, the Tourism minister should correct the misperceptions created and put the meeting in its proper perspective," the letter stated.
Gurria was referring to statements made by Misezhnikov in an interview with Haaretz in which he claimed that a gathering in Israel under OECD auspices "constitutes a declaration of intent and a seal of approval on the fact that we have a state whose recognized capital is Jerusalem."
The OECD letter implies that so long as the tourism minister doesn’t correct his statements the group may boycott Israel meetings altogether. "(The statements) make it more difficult to propose further meetings in Israel," the letter noted.
Netanyahu upon Israel's official acceptance to the OECD (Photo: Avi Ohayon, BPO)
Gurria added that Misezhnikov is aware of the fact the OECD holds gatherings in many countries and that the committee agreed to meet in the western part of Jerusalem without prejudice to the city's status under international law.
The OECD chief also regretted the fact that Misezhnikov put the meeting in the context of the current peace process. "Such statements are factually incorrect and quite unacceptable. They are counterproductive to our common objective to continue the smooth integration of Israel into the work of the organization."
The Prime Minister's Office said in response: "We are not familiar with the letter. When we receive it we shall consider how to address it."
The tourism minister's office confirmed that the letter had been received on Thursday and said it was now being studied it. It was further stated that the minister's remarks had been misunderstood and that the minister had merely responded to a suggestion to move the conference to Tel Aviv by explaining that Jerusalem was Israel's capital and there was therefore no need to move the gathering.
Israel joined the OECD earlier this year. The gathering scheduled to be held in Jerusalem on tourism affairs is the first to take place in Israel since it was accepted as a member.
Misezhnikov previously claimed that Spain and Britain will not attend the gathering and blamed them of boycotting the event for political differences. The two countries denied the claims and the Spanish government went as far as announcing that a representative on its behalf would be attending the conference. Britain stated it will not participate in the event for technical reasons, which Israel's Foreign Ministry confirmed.
However, it appears that Turkey will be sending an envoy on its behalf to Jerusalem. Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported this week that despite tense relations between Jerusalem and Ankara Turkey will be represented by its deputy tourism minister.
However, on Thursday the Turkish foreign minister was quoted as saying he has yet to decide whether to send an envoy to the meeting.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report
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