November 20, 2008
Posted: 825 GMT
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel will boycott a United Nations conference on racism next year, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Wednesday, charging it would be biased against Israel and aim to delegitimize the Jewish state.
The next World Conference Against Racism is scheduled to take place next April in Geneva, Switzerland.
The U.S. and Israel walked out midway through the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, because of a draft resolution that singled out Israel for criticism and compared Zionism — the movement to establish and maintain a Jewish state — to racism. The resolution was not approved.
Critics said that conference mostly ignored other conflicts around the world and focused on Israel.
Livni said the 2009 gathering would be a repeat performance.
"The documents prepared for the (upcoming) conference indicate that it is turning once again into an anti-Israeli tribunal, singling out and delegitimizing the state of Israel, which has nothing to do with fighting racism," she said at a conference of North American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. "In view of this situation, I decided that Israel will not participate."
The U.S. has not yet decided whether to take part, but used a vote in the U.N. General Assembly last year to protest the conference. Canada has said it will not take participate, charging that the meeting would promote racism and not combat it.
Jewish participants at the 2001 Durban conference said they had been silenced and threatened by pro-Arab activists.
Livni called on the international community to stay away from the 2009 conference, which she said "seeks to legitimize hatred and extremism under the banner of the fight against racism." No comment from the organizers was immediately available.
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