JERUSALEM (JTA) – Turkey reportedly will boycott a regional tourism conference next week in Israel.
The move to boycott the biannual Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development conference, which is set to begin Oct. 20 in Jerusalem, reportedly is Turkey’s first official boycott of Israel on an international level since the deaths of nine Turkish passengers on a Gaza-bound flotilla that was intercepted by Israeli naval commandos on May 31.
Turkey’s decision to not send a delegation to the conference was reported in the Turkish daily Hurriyet, which quoted the country’s culture minister, Ertugrul Gunay.
Spain and Britain reportedly have said that they also will not send delegations.
On Oct. 8, the OECD warned Israel that it would cancel the conference unless Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov retracted an assertion that the gathering signals recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.
Misezhnikov, a member of the hard-line Yisrael Beiteinu party, had told Haaretz that Spain and Britain are among the nations boycotting the conference because it is taking place in Jerusalem. He went on to assert that the presence of officials from 21 other countries out of the OECD’s 33 "will be a declaration of intent and a seal of approval on the fact that we have a state whose recognized capital is Jerusalem."
Palestinian groups have been applying pressure on OECD members not to attend the conference if it is held in Jerusalem.
Delegates from countries including Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, South Africa, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Estonia are expected to take part in the conference.
Israel, with strong U.S. backing, gained entry this year to the OECD, which seeks to coordinate policies among the world’s leading market economies.