Israel to boycott UN racism meeting
New York - Israel vowed on Sunday to boycott a 2011 UN summit commemorating a controversial conference on racism that became overshadowed by disputes over the Middle East.
Canada has already said it will not take part in events marking the 10th anniversary of the Durban declaration on racism and some US senators are urging the United States to boycott the meetings, which were called for in a vote at the UN General Assembly on Friday.
"Under the present circumstances, as long as the meeting is defined as part of the infamous 'Durban process,' Israel will not participate in the meeting scheduled to take place in UN headquarters in New York in September 2011," said Israel's UN mission spokesperson Karean Peretz.
Israel and the United States opposed the resolution - which passed by 104 votes to 22, with 33 abstentions - that called for the new follow-up summit to the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in the South African city of Durban.
Many Muslim and African nations backed calls for the new conference at the UN General Assembly in September because of the prevalence of racism.
Insisting that "Israel is part of the international struggle against racism," Peretz said "Israel regrets that a resolution on an important subject - elimination of racism - has been diverted and politicised by the automatic majority at the UN, by linking it to the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (2001) that many states would prefer to forget."
In a statement, the spokesperson slammed what she called "the anti-semitic undertones and displays of hatred for Israel and the Jewish world" that marked the Durban conference.
That meeting "left us with scars that will not heal quickly", she said.
The conference was marked by bitter disputes and walkouts over plans to include condemnations of Zionism in the final declaration. Israel and the United States walked out complaining of anti-Semitism.
Nine governments - including Canada, the United States, Australia, Israel, Germany and Britain - boycotted last year's Durban II talks in Geneva over fears of anti-Semitism.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the conference as a platform to launch a virulent attack on Israel.
US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the United States voted against holding a new Durban review meeting "because the Durban Declaration process has included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism, and we do not want to see that commemorated".
A group of 18 US senators sent a letter to Rice last week urging her to shun UN events next year commemorating the Durban Declaration.