Italy Boycotting Durban II

Italy has followed the lead of the US and announced it will boycott the Durban II conference on racism. Britain threatened it may follow suit.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 07:44

Anti-Israel protest at Durban I
Anti-Israel protest at Durban I
Israel News Photo: (file)

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Thursday that Italy will not attend the Durban II conference scheduled for April in Geneva because of “aggressive and anti-Semitic statements” in resolutions being prepared for the summit on racism. Israel, Canada and the United States already have said they will not attend, and Britain threatened to follow suit.

Foreign Minister Frattini also announced a postponement of a trip to Iran due to anti-Israeli and anti-American remarks by Iranian leaders.

Like the U.S., Frattini said that the decision to boycott Durban II could be reconsidered if the draft resolutions against Israel are changed. Several pre-conference motions have singled out Israel for alleged racism and have accepted Palestinian Authority recommendations supporting its claim that Arab descendants of former Israeli Arabs have the right to immigrate and live in Israel.

Mark Malloch-Brown, Britain’s minister for Africa, Asia and the United Nations, told the Human Rights Council that, “A change in…direction will be required for any outcome document to gain our support.”  

The committee preparing resolutions for Durban II also rejected a suggestion for condemnation of anyone denying the Holocaust. "The UK will find unacceptable any attempt to use the Durban process to trivialize or deny the Holocaust, or to renegotiate agreements on the fight against anti-Semitism," said Malloch-Brown.

Israel has called on all European Union countries to follow Canada and the U.S. and boycott the conference, a follow-up to the first conference held in Durban, South Africa in 2001. The U.S. walked out of the parley because of harsh anti-Israel resolutions that compared Zionism with racism.

Holland has also put the Durban II planners on notice that it also will join the boycott if the resolutions are not modified.