MADRID, Spain (JTA) — Spain and Britain will boycott an international tourism conference being held in Jerusalem.
The two countries will not send delegates to attend the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s biannual tourism conference to be held in Jerusalem Oct. 20-22. The OECD normally holds its gatherings on sustainable tourism in Paris.
OECD delegates demanded that the conference not be held in eastern Jerusalem or that it be moved to Tel Aviv, Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said. Israel rejected the Tel Aviv proposal, but agreed not to bring delegates to eastern Jerusalem. This did not prevent Spain and Britain from withdrawing participation in the event.
Palestinian groups have been applying pressure on OECD members not to come to the conference if it is held in Jerusalem.
"I strongly denounce the states that surrendered to threats," Misezhnikov said. "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 at least 14 countries — including Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, South Africa, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Estonia and Turkey — are expected to take part in the conference.