Netherlands vows to boycott Durban II

The first Durban conference in 2001 saw numerous attacks on Israel

The first Durban conference in 2001 saw numerous attacks on Israel

The Netherlands is the latest country threatening to boycott the United Nations ‘Durban II’ conference against racism.

Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said the conference was “a propaganda circus by countries attempting to carry out antisemitic agitation against Israel”.

He warned that his government would not participate if the resolution of the preparatory committee was not changed.

Netherlands is one of several EU members to voice concerns over the conference, due to take place in Geneva in April.

However, according to Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, a former vice-chairman of the Foundation for Research of Dutch Jewry: “The Netherlands government is not worried so much about Israel, but about the issues of freedom of speech regarding radical Islam that are to be brought before the Durban II conference, which are of particular concern to Holland following the murder of Theo Van Gogh.”

Mr Van Gogh, an artist, was killed four years ago in Amsterdam by a Dutch Muslim over his film criticising Islam.

So far, only Israel and Canada have officially announced that they will not participate in Durban II. The next major development is expected to be the decision of US President-elect Barack Obama whether to take part.
Advisers to the incoming administration have assured Jewish leaders that Mr Obama understands the implications of participating in the conference and there was little chance he would send a delegation unless drastic changes were made to the preparatory resolutions.
l The EU and the UN this week adopted resolutions calling for progress in the Israel-Palestine peace process.

The European Council declaration reaffirmed that the peace process would remain a key priority of the EU in 2009 and welcomed the renewed emphasis on the Arab League peace initiative.

The UN resolution, which was sponsored by Russia and the US, reaffirmed the commitment to a two-state solution.

    Last updated: 2:47pm, December 18 2008