The UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday removed openly anti-Israel portions of a draft declaration for the upcoming "Durban II" anti-racism conference in what Israeli officials saw as a trick to get the US and European nations to reconsider their decisions to boycott the event.
The original draft declaration for the conference, which will be held in Geneva next month, was 45 pages long, and focused almost solely on delegitimizing Israel as a "racist" entity and outlawing any language critical of Islam.
By late last week, Canada, the US, Israel and Italy had officially withdrawn from the conference, and the rest of the European Union was also threatening to stay away.
A UN spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the draft declaration had been cut to only 17 pages, and all paragraphs referencing specific nations (ie. Israel) had been removed. She called the revision a "significant step forward," and hoped that the US and European nations would respond by reconsidering their participation in the conference.
But Israeli Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Roni Leshno-Yaar told the Post that what the spokeswoman failed to point out is that while the declaration has been shortened, the opening paragraph has also been altered to reaffirm the concluding declaration of the first anti-racism conference held in Durban, South Africa in 2001.
That conference was characterized by wild accusations of racism and oppression by the Israeli government, and the final declaration was described by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell as "hateful" and unfairly focused on a single nation, Israel.
Israel and the US walked out of what is now known as the "Durban Summit."
Leshno-Yaar said that regardless of how the nations controlling the Human Rights Council present the draft declaration right now, Durban II will undoubtedly not be any more fair toward Israel than its predecessor.
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