Israel rejects revised draft of Durban II statement

A senior Foreign Ministry source said Wednesday thay Israel rejects the latest draft of the closing statement for the “Durban 2” anti-racism conference, despite revisions aimed at dropping direct criticism of Israek.

While all direct references to Israel and the Israel-Palestinian
conflict have been removed in an attempt to keep the European Union
from boycotting, it still implicitly singles out Israel.

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“The first clause in the new document reaffirms the declaration of
‘Durban 1,’ which calls Israel a racist state, and the change is
cosmetic only. The essence remains the same,” the official said. “This
is a diplomatic ruse intended to blur matters and introduce criticism
of Israel by the back door.”

The statement will be issued at the end of the second United Nations
sponsored World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held in Geneva on April 20.

The previous version of the “Durban 2” closing statement led the
United States, Canada and Italy to announce they would be boycotting
the conference. Other EU countries, as well as Australia and New
Zealand, also threatened to boycott.

The edited version was crafted by a committee headed by Russia, with
the goal of preventing the boycott.

While all direct references to Israel and the Middle East have been
eliminated, the Foreign Ministry says it references the closing
statement from Durban 1, which was held in 2001 in Durban, South
Africa. That document presented Israel as an “apartheid state,” and
singled out Israel as racist.

Israel and the United States walked out of the 2001 Durban conference
to protest draft conference texts branding Israel as a racist and
apartheid state language that was later dropped. The Foreign Ministry
on Tuesday instructed its envoys to continue asking their host
countries to boycott the conference.