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Australia ready to boycott Durban II

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Australia said it will boycott the Durban II anti-racism conference unless the heavily anti-Israel conference draft document is changed.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said in federal parliament March 12 that Australia would join Israel, Canada, the United States and Italy in withdrawing from the United Nations-sponsored conference pending a revision of the text of the draft documents for next month’s conference in Geneva.

“If we form the view that the text is going to lead to nothing more than an anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic harangue and an anti-Jewish propaganda exercise, Australia will not be in attendance,” Smith said.

“We will give the working group every opportunity to revise the text in a qualitatively improved way to ensure that that does not happen, and we will make our judgment at a time of our choosing when we have given all nation-states concerned the opportunity to add qualitatively to the text to enable it to form the proper basis of debate at the conference," he said.

Numerous Jewish representatives have lobbied the federal government  to boycott the April 20-24 conference, which they fear will be a reprise of the U.N. World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance that took place in 2001 in Durban, South Africa. Israel and the United States walked out of the conference, which they criticized as an anti-Israel hate fest.

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