Archive for the ‘Government Positions’ category

EU Deferring Decision on New Draft Text

March 20, 2009

JTA reports the EU is “heartened” by the new draft text — the official one, not the Dutch alternative proposal — but won’t decide until later whether it’s good enough to participate in the actual conference.

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Israel Not Keen on New Durban Text

March 19, 2009

The Israeli foreign ministry says the changes are “cosmetic.” Why? The new text wholeheartedly reaffirms the 2001 Durban Declaration, which characterized Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as a racial issue. Hence, in the Israeli government’s view, it’s a way to “introduce criticism of Israel by the back door.”

Dutch Counter-Text

March 18, 2009

Here’s an alternative Durban text that the Netherlands have proposed. They’d like it to be an EU initiative, but so far it seems to be a Dutch one. It (literally) cuts and pastes agreed-upon language to create a much more concise statement of principles. It also adds new language affirming the importance of free expression, and the inadmissability of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

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Red Lines Still Crossed

March 18, 2009

The revised draft outcome document has no references to Israel or to the “defamation of religions.” But some countries’ conditions for participating in Durban II still aren’t satisfied — the Dutch, for instance, demand that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation be condemned, and the U.S. doesn’t want a full reaffirmation of the 2001 Durban Declaration, which accused Israel of racist practices.

So says Hillel Neuer, Director of AJC’s UN Watch, in this AP report on the new draft.

France: New Text Doesn’t Cross Red Lines

March 17, 2009

So says Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, as reported by Reuters. “It would seem that precise improvements have been made.” Kouchner says there will be a common EU position — which, as of the moment, there is not. To be continued …

More on Germany

March 17, 2009

Adding to Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s strong language from yesterday, JTA reports chancellery sources confirming that Germany is “on the verge” of walking. (No daylight between the chancellery and foreign ministry positions — you know something’s up.)

Germany, of course, is critical to EU decision-making. So the question becomes: if Germany joins Italy in taking the lead, how many follow?

Today’s News: Toward an EU Tipping Point?

March 16, 2009

This report from today’s EU foreign ministers meeting suggests some European momentum toward withdrawal. The EU has long said it won’t accept the singling out of Israel at the conference, but it hasn’t demanded changes to the draft text with this kind of urgency and indignation.

Perhaps the key quote comes from German FM Steinmeier, ratcheting up the language a few notches: “I am in favor of canceling participation in the conference, unless the documents are changed substantially within the next hours and days.”