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Britain dismisses Israel tourism boycott claim

    British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, presents his credentials
    British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, presents his credentials

    Britain has denied that it is boycotting an international tourism conference in Jerusalem, despite Israeli claims to the contrary.

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development will host two events in the city later this month - a two-day seminar on sustainable tourism, followed by a conference on data and privacy protection.

    The Israeli Foreign Ministry rejected apparent OECD requests to move the event to Tel Aviv, but highlighted the fact Britain and Spain would not be sending delegates.

    Israeli media reported claims by Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov that Palestinian officials had encouraged OECD members to stay away from Jerusalem.

    The reports prompted supporters of Israel in Britain to unleash a flurry of emails condemning a "spiteful and shameful" boycott.

    But a spokeswoman at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that the reason that a British delegate would not be sent to the tourism event was lack of money.

    She added that no representative had attended the previous OECD conference in Paris.

    In a statement, the British Embassy in Israel added: "The UK's opposition to boycotts against Israel is well known. The UK will actually be chairing a session at the OECD's international data protection and privacy commission."

    On Monday, new British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould presented his credentials to Israeli President Shimon Peres, in Jerusalem.

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