MEPs: UN Mideast peace conference biased against Israel

Seven European parliamentarians publish letter calling conference propaganda that presents only the Palestinian narrative.

Ban Ki-Moon 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Ban Ki-Moon 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
On Friday seven members of the European Parliament published a letter in the International Herald Tribune saying that despite the neutral sounding title of the UN conference in Brussels, "it has a proven record of anti-Israel bias, spreading propaganda that presents only the Palestinian narrative, including the delegitimization of Israel - a UN member state." Last week's two-day "UN International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace" was organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People [CEIRPP] and was deemed by some attendees and Jewish groups as highly partisan, biased and one-sided. It was boycotted by Poland and led to a barrage of protests. The MEPs wrote that the conference, which took place at the European Parliament, "casts a shadow on the UN role in the Middle East conflict and is first and foremost harmful to the UN." "Its work only reinforces a long-held Israeli suspicion vis-a-vis the UN and contributes nothing to the cause of peace. A recent example is a plan of action calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel," the letter continued. "Will the conference, in the halls of the European Parliament, issue similar directives? Though of little practical consequence, this conference, especially under the banner and auspices of the European Parliament, will harm the cause of peace and also damage European credibility as an honest broker," the MEPs said. "We are told that Parliament is merely letting CEIRPP use its premises. Surely, the European Parliament is not just a convention center. As members of the European Parliament, we are shocked that this biased event would take place within our institutional premises." "We hope many more will join in condemning this event and call on the presidency to reconsider the damaging consequences this event will have for our institution. Behind the neutral banner of a UN committee and the seemingly respectable goals of this conference there lurks a biased agenda of radical anti-Israel organizations. The European Parliament should not give them a platform in the only representative body of the EU, whose goals are to foster dialogue and understanding, not acrimony, mistrust and despair," they continued. Dr. Shimon Samuels, director for international liaison at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Paris, who attended the conference, said it was a huge rally of haters of Israel on how best to harm the Jewish state. "It was only about Israel as war criminal and the devil," Samuels told The Jerusalem Post. "It was disconcerting that the UN and European Parliament allowed themselves to be hijacked in this way." The Anti-Defamation League said it was "disappointed and dismayed" by UN Secretary General Ban-Ki moon's welcoming remarks at the conference, which they said had a history of singling out Israel for undeserved criticism, attacks and boycott threats. The UN International Conference of Civil Society in support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, involved workshops on "increasing the resistance of the Israeli occupation" - often the code for suicide bombings against Israeli civilians - and other actions and statements aimed at delegitimizing the Jewish state, the ADL said. In a letter to Ban, the ADL said the conference's title was itself misleading, given the true objectives and goals of its organizers and the committee∂s past history of anti-Israel broadsides. "The agenda topics and the bulk of the speakers reveal a pronounced and extreme anti-Israel slant," said Glen Lewy, ADL national chairman. "The gathering, as well as the organizing body, is anything but supportive of true Israeli-Palestinian peace. We are disappointed and dismayed that the secretary-general would see fit to engage with such a one-sided and potentially damaging proceeding." ADL urged the Secretary-General to issue a declaration that the Committee's work "is at odds with the UN's policy and undermines efforts to promote Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation."