[R-G] Haaretz: Israel concerned U.S. may agree to take part in 'Durban 2'
shniad at sfu.ca
Thu Feb 26 12:30:30 MST 2009
Haaretz February 16, 2009 Israel concerned U.S. may agree to take part in 'Durban 2' By Barak Ravid
Officials in Jerusalem expressed concern that Israel and Barack
Obama's administration are on a collision course over an expected U.S.
decision to participate in "Durban 2," the second UN-sponsored World
Conference Against Racism, scheduled in Geneva this April.
The Foreign Ministry has sought to block efforts by senior U.S.
officials to convince Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to alter
American policy set during the Bush administration not to attend the
conference, which is regarded by Israel as a forum of anti-Semitic and
Israel is boycotting the conference because a declaration equating
Zionism with racism is expected to be made there. In addition, it is
expected that the organizers and participants will charge that Israel
is committing genocide against the Palestinians, and, like before in
Durban, will make anti-Semitic statements.
The Bush administration agreed with Israel last year that the U.S.
would not participate unless it received guarantees that the
conference would not become a stage for anti-Semitism and one-sided
criticism of Israel, as occured during the first Durban meeting in
Canada also announced that it was boycotting the conference and the
Foreign Ministry has tried in recent months to convince European Union
countries to also avoid participating.
The Foreign Ministry received confidential telegraphs from Israel's
embassies in Washington, the United Nations and Geneva, about a
possible change in the policy of the new U.S. administration regarding
"Iran and Arab countries will once more take over the conference, and
if the U.S. participates in 'Durban 2,' it will be a major blow," a
senior Israeli diplomat told Haaretz. "This will pull the rug from
under us and will lead to the participation of many more countries in
In one of the telegrams, a number of Obama officials reportedly
pressed Secretary of State Clinton to announce the U.S. would
participate in the conference.
One of the leading officials pressuring Clinton on "Durban 2" is the
new U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, who was Obama's close
Rice is also pushing for the U.S. to join the UN Human Rights Council,
which is based in Geneva. The body had been boycotted by the U.S., in
part because of its one-sided criticism of Israel.
President George Bush had accused the HRC of opting to focus on Israel
instead of dealing with the genocide in Darfur.
The other official pushing for American participation in "Durban 2" is
Samantha Power, another Obama adviser at the National Security
Power participated in the initial Durban conference as the
representative of a non-government organization and is known for her
strong criticism of Israel. In the past, she expressed support for
cutting U.S. military assistance to Israel and transferring the funds
as aid to build a Palestinian state.
Senior State Department officials contacted Israeli diplomats and
asked them to take swift action to block the Durban initiative.
"This is the time for Israel and Jewish organizations to intervene,"
U.S. officials said.
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