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U.N. Watch: Symposium Reverts to a ‘half-century of Conflict’

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A United Nations-sponsored symposium on “the Question of Palestine” has threatened the Middle East peace process, the World Jewish Congress has charged.

In a speech delivered to the Geneva symposium this week, Eric Block, a fellow of the WJC’s U.N. Watch, charged that the symposium “substitutes distrust for confidence and continues the fruitless, bloody and sad half-century of conflict.”

The U.N. Watch monitors issues of Jewish concerns at the U.N. in Geneva.

Block’s address was interrupted Wednesday, when the chair ruled it out of order.

He was allowed to complete his statement Thursday, the final day of the four-day conference of international and European non-governmental organizations.

Block lambasted the symposium for vehemently criticizing the substance of the Washington and Cairo agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

In particular, he said, the participants seemed to conclude that the “cornerstone of the agenda” should be the return of Palestinian refugees and the establishment of Jerusalem as the capital of an independent of Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

Noting that these two issues had been left as final status topics by Israel and the PLO, Block said that by raising the subjects, the symposium “undermines not only Israel’s ability to implement the peace plan, but the Palestinian ability as well.”

The symposium was held under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the In-alienable Rights of the Palestinian People, a body Israel and the United States have long boycotted.

An official at the Israeli mission to the United Nations in New York said the Israeli position is that if the United Nations wants to conduct a symposium on the Palestinians, the right sponsor today is not the committee in Geneva but the coordinator for the United Nations with the Palestinian governing authority.

The official added that Israel will work this year toward the elimination of the committee.

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