Law of return under fire at Durban II

Jewish groups will face an uphill battle in their efforts to keep anti-Zionism off the agenda of the forthcoming United Nations anti-racism conference.

The latest draft of the resolutions, published this week, contains a proposed new reference to the “racially-based law of return” — the law which grants the right of any Jew to settle in the state of Israel.

Israel and Canada have already pulled out of “Durban II”, the follow-up in April in Geneva to the UN conference in South Africa eight years ago.

At a preliminary meeting in the Swiss city last week to discuss the key conference document, Jewish groups had argued for the removal of a number of paragraphs about the plight of the Palestinians.

A statement read out on behalf of the Jewish Human Rights Coalition UK, the World Jewish Congress and others said: “These paragraphs…unnecessarily politicise the anti-racist agenda. The politicisation of the text and the singling-out of one particular conflict, gives preference and precedence to one group over another and establishes a dangerous hierarchy.”

But the revised text, seen by the JC, proposes replacing the paragraphs with one that expresses “concern at the plight of Palestinian refugees and other inhabitants of the Arab occupied territories as well as displaced persons who were forced to leave their homes because of war and racial policies of the occupying power and who are prevented from returning to their homes and properties because of a racially-based law of return”.

It also proposes to include a reference to the situation in Gaza.

Negotations over the resolutions will continue for some months. The new text also includes a proposal to condemn Holocaust denial, reflecting European and Jewish concerns that references to the Holocaust had been diluted in the previous draft.

Jewish campaigners are anxious to avoid a repetition of the attacks on Israel at the original Durban conference of 2001.

    Last updated: 4:01pm, January 29 2009