Tourism Minister: U.K., Spain to Boycott OECD Tourism Conference Because It's in Jerusalem

Palestinians pressure Europe to shun October conference on sustainable tourism, which normally takes place in Paris.

Irit Rosenblum
Irit Rosenblum
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Irit Rosenblum
Irit Rosenblum

Britain and Spain will not send delegates to the OECD's biannual tourism conference on October 20-22, because it will be held in Jerusalem, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beiteinu ) said yesterday.

The Dome of the Rock is seen on the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City September 17, 2010.Credit: Reuters

This is only the second time in its history that the conference, which this year will deal with sustainable tourism, is being held outside Paris.

"OECD officials demanded that we not bring the delegates to East Jerusalem, or that we move the conference to Tel Aviv," Misezhnikov said. "If we agreed to that, they promised to send many delegates. We held a meeting with the Foreign Ministry and decided to reject" the Tel Aviv idea.

But even after Israel agreed not to take the delegates to East Jerusalem - and even to eschew any mention of East Jerusalem during the conference - the Palestinians urged OECD members to stay away from it, Misezhnikov charged.

"The Palestinians, who insist they are a reliable negotiating partner, are continuing to cause us damage," he said. "We exerted intensive pressure via the ambassadors and decided to hold the conference despite certain countries' decision not to send delegates, including England and Spain."

"I strongly denounce the states that surrendered to threats," he added. "But the conference - with the participation of 21 ministers, deputy ministers and organization heads - will take place as planned in Jerusalem. This will be a declaration of intent and a seal of approval on the fact that we have a state whose recognized capital is Jerusalem."

Delegates from Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, South Africa, The Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Estonia and Turkey, among others, are expected to take part in the conference.

The British Embassy said in response:

"The U.K. won't be attending this conference, but it is entirely false to suggest that this is due to a boycott of for political reasons. The U.K.'s opposition to boycotts against Israel is well known. The UK will actually be chairing a session at the OECD's international data protection and privacy commission later this month in Jerusalem. The only reason there's no U.K. representation at the tourism seminar is because that right delegates simply weren't available.

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