Jerusalem braces for usual 'bashfest' at nonaligned parley

Israel is bracing itself for yet another Israel bashing festival when the triennial Nonaligned Movement (NAM) summit opens Saturday in Fidel Castro's Havana. "We expect to be taken to the cleaners, criticized for everything short of breathing," one government official said Wednesday. In the months leading up to the summit, he said, Israel approached friendly NAM countries with a request to do what they could to soften the resolutions and not be "drawn to the lowest common denominator." While Israel does not have diplomatic relations with 30 nations of the 118-member NAM, it does have good relations with a number of them, including India, Thailand, the Philippines, Ecuador, Honduras and Panama. There is no expectation, however, that the resolutions that will emerge from this conference will be any different than the lopsidedly anti-Israel resolutions that emerged form the last NAM summit three years ago in Kuala Lumpur. That summit's "Declaration on Palestine" called upon member states "to undertake measures, including by means of legislation, collectively, regionally and individually, to prevent any products of the illegal Israeli settlements from entering their markets consistent with the obligations under international treaties, to decline entry to Israeli settlers and to impose sanctions against companies and entities involved in the construction of the wall and other illegal activities in the occupied territory, including east Jerusalem." A similar resolution is likely to be passed this year, but diplomatic officials said that just as the previous resolution wasn't implemented and backpackers from Oranit, Ma'aleh Adumim and Efrat were not barred entry into places like Nepal and Vietnam, it was highly unlikely a similar resolution would be implemented this time either. Jerusalem's main concern about the NAM conference is that the representatives will go form there straight to the UN General Assembly under the influence of extreme anti-Israel rhetoric and a tendency to want to stick together on various decisions as a bloc. At the conference, member states Iran, Syria and North Korea are expected to try to broaden the world's definition of terrorism to include the war in Lebanon and the US occupation in Iraq. A draft of NAM's joint declaration condemns "terrorism in all its forms," especially violence that targets civilians. Terrorism should not be associated with any religion or nationality, says the draft, which singles out a favored phrase of US President George W. Bush: Member countries "totally reject the use of the term 'axis of evil' by a certain state to target other states under the pretext of combating terrorism." The draft declaration condemns Israel's invasion of Lebanon, with no balancing comments about Hizbullah's missile attacks. It also hails the Lebanese people's "heroic resistance to the Israeli aggression" and demands that Israel compensate the Lebanese government and people for the deaths, injuries and destruction the war caused. AP contributed to this report.