Officials: OECD Jerusalem Conference Will Not Be Canceled

OECD chief warns Netanyahu conferences in Israel could be hindered after toursim minister says Jerusalem conference a show of support for Israel's territorial claims.

Contrary to previous reports, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will not cancel a tourism conference scheduled to take place in Jerusalem at the end of the month, diplomatic sources told Army Radio on Saturday.

OECD Chief Angel Gurria, Olivier Fitoussi
Olivier Fitoussi

Angel Gurria, Secretary-General of the OECD sent a harsh letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning that due to comments made by Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beitenu), the decision to hold the conference in Jerusalem could be hindered.

Misezhnikov said in an interview with Haaretz on Monday that although some countries have cancelled their participation in the OECD conference to be held in Jerusalem later this month, the fact that most countries have not cancelled their participation is a show of support for Israel's territorial claims in Jerusalem.

The OECD plans to hold its biannual tourism conference on October 20-22 in Jerusalem. According to Misezhnikov, Britain and Spain have said they will not send delegates to the conference because it was going to be held in Jerusalem.

Gurria wrote in the letter that he demanded clarifications regarding Misezhnikov's comments and claimed that the OECD had made it known to Israel that their decision to hold the conference in Jerusalem was not meant to have political implications.

"In order to go forward with the meeting on the current basis, the tourism minister should correct the misperception created and put the meeting in its proper perspective," OECD secretary-general Angel Gurria wrote in a letter to Netanyahu, a tourism ministry official said .

The official, who denied the OECD was threatening to cancel the conference, spoke on condition of anonymity because the contents of the letter were private.

The Secretary-General protested the fact that Misezhnikov had linked the conference to political issues and said that the incident could hinder the planning of future conferences in Israel.

Netanyahu's office and the Paris-based OECD had no comment on the letter.