Italy Won't Attend Durban II

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said his country will not attend the Durban II conference because of the "aggressive and anti-Semitic statements" in the draft document, which describe Israel as a racist, occupying nation.

Frattini was in Brussels attending a NATO meeting when Ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari announced that Italy would not participate in the UN-sponsored racism conference unless organizers dropped the anti-Israel language in the draft document.

While Canada and Israel had already boycotted the conference, Italy was the first European Union member nation to do so.

Earlier this week, France and the Netherlands criticized the draft document, but neither has decided to date to boycott the conference.

"I am deeply disturbed by the turn this event is taking," Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhage told members of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday.

"I fully understand why some countries have decided not to participate. For the Netherlands, too, the draft outcome document is not acceptable in its present form," Verhage said.

French Prime Minister Francois Filion said if the anti-Israel content of the draft document was not changed, his country would not attend the conference.

At Durban I, held in South Africa in 2001, the U.S. and Israeli delegations walked out when Israel-bashing became the focus and participants agreed to equate Zionism with racism in the draft resolution.

Last week, to the dismay of many in Israel, U.S. President Barack Obama sent a delegation to Geneva to participate in the development of the draft document.

The U.S. says it will withdraw its participation in Durban II if the document retains its anti-Israel content.

Sources: YNet news, The Jerusalem Post

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