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Israel, MEPs protest meeting on rights of Palestinians over organizers' records

Israel, MEPs protest meeting on rights of Palestinians over organizers' records

BRUSSELS, Belgium _ A U.N.-sponsored conference on the rights of Palestinians opens this week at the European Parliament, despite protests by Israel and European Union lawmakers who say the meeting's organizers have an anti-Israeli agenda.
The two-day panel meeting, opening Thursday, was convened by the U.N's Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. It will discuss ways to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace, the committee said.
But Israel views the committee as a legacy of the 1975 U.N. General Assembly resolution _ revoked in 1991 _ that equated Zionism with racism. And some EU lawmakers, backing Israel's push to have the conference canceled, say the panel meeting was approved by leaders of European Parliament's political groups without consulting the appropriate parliamentary bodies.
Ran Curiel, the Israeli envoy to the EU, asked EU parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering last week block the conference.
The EU assembly refused, saying it was not backing the conference, only providing space for the meeting. However, the parliament rejected a similar request for a meeting by the U.N. panel a few years ago because the committee has called for boycotts and sanctions against Israel.
"It is absolutely improper and offensive that a conference like this is now taking place at the premises of the European Parliament," said Czech conservative legislator Jana Hybaskova, chairwoman of the parliament's Delegation for Relations with Israel, adding that the delegation had not been consulted beforehand.
The conservative European People's Party, the largest party in the 785-seat EU assembly, was opposed to the meeting, but other political groupings have pushed it through.
"Organizing this sort of thing in parliament is always very tricky, delicate and difficult politically," said Joseph Daul, chairman of the conservatives. "We were against this debate, but in the full spirit of democracy, others decided to go ahead." There are eight political groupings in the assembly.
Geneva-based U.N. Watch, which monitors the U.N.'s compliance with its charter and is associated with the American Jewish Committee, said the parliament's decision to support the conference _ where Israel's view will not be represented _ was "deeply regrettable."
"Contrary to the noble-sounding title, this conference is undermining the core principles of the EU-sponsored Quartet and the road map peace process," said Hillel Neuer, the watchdog's executive director. "A large part of the problem is naivety. People are simply unfamiliar with the anti-Israel propaganda material in the meeting."
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization based in Los Angeles, said the conference was one-sided and only served to vilify Israel. It praised those lawmakers who have called for the meeting to be called off.
But the conference organizers denied it would be anti-Israeli, saying it would "provide a timely opportunity to discuss situation on the ground" and look at all possible ways to advance the Middle East peace process.
The U.N. committee, established in 1975, is chaired by Senegal. It has 22 member and 26 observer states.


Updated : 2020-12-01 04:56 GMT+08:00