ROME (AP)Â â€”Â Italy said Thursday it is pulling out of a U.N. conference on racism â€” the latest blow to a meeting seen by many Western governments as marred by Muslim attempts to attack Israel and shield Islam from criticism.
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Italy has withdrawn its delegation from the preparatory negotiations ahead of the so-called Durban II conference due to “aggressive and anti-Semitic statements”Â in the draft of the event’s final document.
Compare the AP language with how Al Jizz puts it:
Italy’s foreign minister has decided to withdraw his country’sÂ delegation from the summitÂ [EPA]
Italy has said it will not take part in a United Nations conference on racism because of “anti-Semitic language” in a draftÂ declaration.
A spokesman for Franco Frattini, Italy’s foreign minister, said on Friday that Frattini had “decided that Italy was withdrawing its delegation” from a conference to be held in Geneva in April.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Get stuffed, Ihsanoglu!
He said the declaration, which relates to the situation in the Palestinian territories,Â contains “unacceptable, aggressive and anti-Semitic phrases”.
The European Union is seeking to remove at least five paragraphs from the draftÂ such asÂ the phrase that “in order to consolidate the Israeli occupation, [Palestinians] have been subjected to unlawful collective punishment, torture”.
Italy is the first EU country to officially withdraw from the conference,Â though other nations have threatened not to attend.
The New York-based World Jewish Congress (WJC) said Italy had taken a “principled decision”.
Ronald Lauder, president of the WJC, said: “Italy has given a strong signal, which should be a rallying call for other European Union countries.”
Critics of the conference also object to sections of the final declaration which they say would limit freedom of religion or speech.
Majority Muslim countries, where residentsÂ are angry over cartoons and films attacking Muslims, have been campaigning for wording that would equate criticism of a religious faith with a violation of human rights.
The April 20-25 meeting is designed to review progress in fighting racism since the inaugural summit on racismÂ in South Africa in 2001.
Israel was attacked during that meeting and anti-Israel demonstrations were held at a parallel conference of non-governmental organisations.
The US and Israel walked out over a draft resolution that criticised Israel and likened Zionism, the movement to establish and maintain a Jewish state, to racism.
Last week, the administration of Barack Obama, the US president, said Washington would stay away from this year’s meeting unless its final document is changed to drop all references to Israel and the defamation of religion.
Euro -dhimmi-nations have expressed hope the summit can go ahead with a final text that is acceptable to all sides.
But they, too, have red lines they say cannot be crossed.
AP Writer Frank Jordans contributed to this report from Geneva.
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said in December that his country would walk out unless anti-Israel statements were scrapped. French diplomat Daniel Vosgien said then that his country opposed the idea of banning criticism of religion.