US plans to deter UN 'anti-Israel' agenda

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 26, 2008

The United States Congress has passed a resolution calling on the government to ensure that next year's United Nations human-rights conference will not have an anti-Israel agenda.

The resolution called on the administration to lead efforts to prevent any UN member states and NGOs turning the summit into a venue for anti-Israeli feeling or antisemitism, as in the previous conference in Durban in 2001.

Next year's summit, which has become known as Durban II even though it is set to take place in Geneva, is meant to be a review conference of resolutions passed at the previous meeting.

Pro-Israeli and Jewish organisations are worried that the agenda will again be diverted from a more wide-reaching discussion of human rights to an almost exclusively anti-Israel platform. The preponderance of Arab states on the Human Rights Council and the fact that a preparatory meeting is to take place around Yom Kippur has heightened these fears. Israel and Canada have already announced that they will not participate without assurances the event will not focus on Israel.

The Congress resolution, proposed by US Democrat congressman Howard Berman from California and co-sponsored by 24 others, calls on the US president to urge other heads of state "to reject any effort to inject antisemitism, hatred, and discrimination on to the Conference agenda".

Another resolution passed in Congress on Wednesday called upon European governments to make sure that property stolen by the Nazi and Communist regimes is returned to its rightful heirs. The resolution singled out the governments of Lithuania and Poland for having failed to enact any legislation for the restitution of, respectively, Jewish communal property and personal property.

The resolution called upon the US President and Secretary of State to "engage in an open dialogue" with these two governments on this issue.

Last updated: 2:38pm, September 25 2008