- DURBAN - The Israeli delegation
to the UN racism summit in Durban continued it efforts Sunday to moderate
the anti-Israel resolution submitted to the summit by the bloc of Muslim
states, and at the same time was contacting representatives of western
states over the possibility of a joint pull-out if moves to moderate the
wording of the proposal failed.
- On Sunday an international convention of parliament members
will discuss the issues on the conference agenda. Israel's sole representative
will be Meretz MK Ran Cohen. The rest of the delegation members cancelled
- A representative of the Palestinian delegation at the
conference has called for an NGO statement issued Sunday, and which condemns
Israel as a "racist apartheid" state, to be adopted as part of
the conference's closing statement.
- Thousands of non-governmental organisations meeting on
the margins of the racism summit in Durban, South Africa, accused Israel
of "systematic perpetration of racist crimes including war crimes,
acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing."
- It called Israel "a racist apartheid state in which
Israel's brand of apartheid as a crime against humanity has been characterised
by separation and segregation ... and inhumane acts."
- The declaration, adopted by 3,000 NGOs in 44 regional
and interest-based caucuses, shocked Jewish groups. Jewish delegates walked
- Foreign Minister Shimon Peres called the anti-Israel
declarations a disgrace, and said that Israel was "seriously"
contemplating withdrawing from the conference in protest.
- Israeli diplomatic efforts are centering on convincing
other Western countries, such as the U.S., Canada and European Union countries,
also to withdraw their delegations in support of Israel. Sources in the
American delegation have said that if efforts to moderate the anti-Israel
wording of the closing statement prove unsuccessful, they will also consider
- The Israeli delegation to the conference blasted the
language of the NGO declaration as an incitement to hatred of Jews. "The
decision of the conference of the NGOs adopted this morning is outright
incitement, whose only purpose is to delegitimise the Jewish state and
its people," delegation spokesman Noam Katz told Reuters.
- Alon Liel, a former ambassador to South Africa, said
that the NGO declaration was the harshest Israel had encountered since
the 1975 UN decision equating Zionism with racism. "This is a condemnation
of the street, of the public, not governments," he said. "Those
decisions (of governments) are still ahead of us."
- Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
asked media representatives Sunday at the Durban conference to help prevent
the hijacking of the conference by the Mideast conflict. Robinson said
that the media representatives were responsible for dealing with other
topics of the conference, such as slavery compensation and minority rights.
- Hours after the declaration was adopted, New York-based
Human Rights Watch, also attending the Durban conference, distanced itself
from the NGO stance because of the harsh language used about Israel. "Israel
has committed serious crimes against Palestinian people but it is simply
not accurate to use the term genocide and to equate Zionism with racism
... it is now a matter of damage control," said Reed Brody, executive
director of Human Rights Watch.
- Resolutions at NGO Forums have no binding authority but
they increasingly influence the final declarations adopted at the UN governmental
meetings they precede.
- The United States, Canada and Israel sent only junior
level delegations to the conference in protest at what they see as anti-Israeli
- Moussa: Arabs not against condemning crimes on Jews
- Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said Sunday
that Arab efforts to condemn Israeli acts against Palestinians at a U.N.
racism conference did not mean they oppose condemning past crimes against
- "Arabs will not stand in the way of condemning crimes
committed against Jews in the past. But at the same time, they will not
accept silence on any racist practices Israel pursues today," the
statement quoted Arab League chief Amr Moussa as saying.
- The statement said Moussa told U.N. Secretary General
Kofi Annan on Saturday on the sidelines of the U.N. World Conference Against
Racism in Durban, South Africa, that Arabs wanted the conference to succeed.