‘No place for anti-Semitism at UN summit’, says Verhagen

The Netherlands is demanding that the draft text for the Durban Review Conference against racism and discrimination focus not just on discrimination against Muslims but on every form of discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, religion or sexual orientation. Otherwise the Netherlands will withdraw from this UN summit, to be held in April 2009 in Geneva.

‘We have not taken this decision lightly; we want to seize every opportunity to combat racism and discrimination,’ said foreign minister Maxime Verhagen. ‘But the Netherlands will not be party to a propaganda circus.’

The draft conference document, which consists of contributions from different parts of the world, accuses Israel of genocide against the Palestinians. Mr Verhagen emphasised that the conference must not be misused for attacks on Israel, and certainly not with unwarranted arguments. ‘The Netherlands will not contribute to a summit that degenerates, as the last one did, into an anti-Semitic witch-hunt,’ said the minister.

A last attempt will be made in the coming weeks to modify the draft text. If the effort does not succeed, the Netherlands will withdraw. Other like-minded countries are expected to take the same decision.