Verhagen: Israel should not be accused of racism

The Netherlands will not allow the 2009 UN anti-racism conference to degenerate into an anti-Israel meeting. This pledge was made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen in a speech on Sunday at a symposium hosted by the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) on the occasion of Israel’s 60th anniversary.

Verhagen wants to avoid a repetition of the previous anti-racism conference, which took place in Durban, South Africa. At that time, a number of countries wanted to use the final declaration to accuse Israel of racism.

‘I would like to assure you,’ Mr Verhagen said on Sunday, ‘that we will not allow this to happen again […] [A]s soon as I get the feeling that events are taking a negative turn […] I will not hesitate to withdraw.’

The Netherlands has been closely involved with the preparations for the follow-up conference, together with the European Union and other likeminded countries, with the aim of exerting a positive influence over the proceedings. A location has not yet been selected for the conference.