Draft Durban II Declaration Breaches Europe’s Red Lines

The first outline for the declaration to emerge from the 2009 Durban Review Conference breaches the red lines set forth by France, the UK, Netherlands and other EU governments, with special references to the Palestinians as victims of Israeli racism.

On May 27 in Geneva, the UN working group tasked with preparing the outcome document of the April 2009 conference circulated a “non-paper” — setting forth the “inventory of issues” to serve as the skeleton of the final declaration — that singles out Israel twice, raising the specter that the Jewish state will, like in 2001, stand specially accused of racism.

First, under the header “Victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” the draft document’s list of “Victims Identified by the Study of Experts under the Inter-Governmental Working Group” makes a special reference to the Palestinians, with Israel by implication cast as a racist perpetrator.

The relevant paragraph:

People under foreign occupation: The protection of the civilian population under foreign occupation has been on the agenda of the international community for a long time. The history of armed conflicts shows that the particular vulnerability of this group is dramatically enhanced if it is connected to racial or ethnic distinction from the occupying power. The Durban Declaration expresses concern about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation.

Second, under “contemporary forms of racism as reported by different countries,” Israel is again singled out, in the document’s summary of Iran’s national report. To be sure, Iran’s 7-page report to the conference does single out Israel. So should the UN be faulted for accurately summarizing one country’s report?

The answer is that not everything submitted by every country is required to be included in the universal outcome document.

Indeed, it is rather curious that when Iran’s seven pages on numerous topics are reduced to merely one paragraph, the UN document makes certain to include the reference to the Palestinians.

The offending paragraph:

Iran
There is an increase in racist violence and xenophobia in many parts of the world as well as of defamation of religion, the rejection of diversity and Islamophobia or incitement against Islam. Comment is made on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which constitutes a violation of a wide range of civil and political rights.

European states have insisted they will not tolerate any repeat of the anti-Semitism of the 2001 Durban conference, which sought to delegitmize the Jewish state by singling it out with the racist label.

“[T]he Durban conference in 2001 led to intolerable excesses from certain states and numerous NGOs that turned the conference into a forum against Israel, and no one has forgotten,” said President Sarkozy in February, promising to disengage from the process “if ever our legitimate demands are not taken into account.”

With the draft outcome document (in its formative stage as an “inventory of issues” non-paper) now threatening to turn the conference — as Sarkozy rightly put it — “into a forum against Israel,” will the EU now defend their red lines, maintaining the threat to walk out if these are not respected?

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