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Netherlands may boycott UN anti-racism conference

THE HAGUE – The Netherlands is considering withdrawing from the United Nations 2009 World Conference against Racism (WCAR) in Geneva.

Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen threatened Tuesday to boycott the conference if anti-Israel statements are not scrapped from draft texts being drawn up for the meeting.

Verhagen said some countries were using the conference as a platform for anti-Semitism.

Israel and Canada already have withdrawn. The United States has protested the conference, but has not decided if it will attend.

"It seems like the sole intention is to criticize Israel and condemn the West for slavery and its colonial history," Verhagen said.

At the last conference in South Africa in 2001, Israel and the United States walked out midway because of a draft resolution equating Zionism – Israel’s founding ideology – with racism. The resolution was not approved.

Verhagen fears a repeat performance in Geneva, and said the Dutch will withdraw unless the proposed resolutions are changed.

"We won’t take that decision lightly. We will take every opportunity at this time to fight racism and discrimination but we will not be used for a propaganda circus," he said.

[AP / Radio Netherlands / Expatica]