At least three European countries to boycott ‘Durban III’ UN conference

The Czech Republic, Italy and the Netherlands will boycott a controversial United Nations conference nicknamed ‘Durban III’ in September for fears that will again be turned into a forum for attacking Israel.

 Prague became the first European government that announced it would not send a delegation to the forum, which is set for 22 September in New York. Shortly afterwards, Rome and The Hague said that they also would stay away. The conference is marking the 10-year anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, which was marred by anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli activities and during which the delegations of the United States and Israel walked out in protest.

The Netherlands, Italy and the Czech Republic wanted to include in the final statement of the meeting in September „that all participating states emphatically distance themselves from the linking of subjects that have nothing to do with the fight against racism,” but „because it is not possible to get such a guarantee, the three countries now see themselves forced to no longer participate in the preparations for the celebration, and also not to attend it, ” the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini cited anti-Israel political manipulation that would make it impossible for Italy to attend the event. In a statement on Friday, he noted longstanding reservations about the ‘Durban Process’. „The process has been transformed from a forum for debate on and coordination of international action against racism, discrimination and xenophobia into a tribunal for accusations against Israel,” Frattini said, adding that Italy had refused to take part in the Durban Review Conference (‘Durban II’) in 2009, an event that was overshadowed by Iran’s President Ahmadinejad (pictured) who threw invective at Israel and singled out Zionism as embodying modern racism.

Israel, the United States and Canada already said they will boycott ‘Durban III’.