Friday, March 20, 2009

Still no Australian decision despite Durban draft change

From the AJN, March 19, 2009, by NAOMI LEVIN:

REFERENCES to Israel have been removed [WRONG: see below - SL] from the draft resolution for the Durbin Review Conference , but the Australian Government is yet to make a decision on whether it will attend.

The new text, which has not yet been accepted, was drafted by the Russian delegation, and according to reports it is shorter in length and no longer singles out Israel for criticism. [Note that the new draft starts by reaffirming the Durban 1 declaration, which singles out Israel as a so-called "racist" state. See our previous postings on this topic - SL]

Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Australia would consider the draft outcome document after revisions were made on March 16.

Speaking to ABC News Radio on Wednesday morning, Smith said he had spoken to the Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen about the new developments.

Verhagen told him that he had informed the European Union Foreign Ministers that unless the text changes, the Dutch won’t be going.

“He got very strong support from a number of his European colleagues,” Smith reported.

Smith also emphasised that without substantial changes, Australia would pull out.

“We won’t take part in the re-run of Durban I, which was essentially an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic harangue.”

This week, three senators spoke out in favour of Australia boycotting the conference, also known as Durban II, next month in Geneva.

But this was before a new draft text was released overnight on Tuesday, erasing all references to Israel in an attempt to placate possible attendees, including Australia, the United States, and the European Union.

Earlier, Senator Judith Troeth, a Victorian Liberal, called on Michael Danby to speak out in the Labor party room on the matter. “Australia has a long and proud history of standing up against racism and anti-Semitism,” Senator Troeth said. “Mr Danby should call on his own government to continue this tradition. ...Danby said the Government is waiting to see changes to the draft document.

...Two other senators, Labor’s David Feeney and Family First’s Steve Fielding, also spoke this week against Australia’s attendance at the Durban Review Conference.

“It seems the Rudd Government’s fanatical obsession with winning a seat on the [UN] Security Council has caused it to lose its moral compass,” Senator Fielding said.

In his speech, Senator Feeney said: “I believe that Australia should give very serious consideration to what interests we would be serving by dignifying this conference with our presence.”

The Jewish community also kept pressure on Smith this week.

Zionist Council of Victoria president Dr Danny Lamm said: “The best message we could give the world is for Libya, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority to pontificate to a sea of empty desks.”
Post a Comment