US bolting from WCAR angers ANC, Palestinian delegations

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- As Israeli and US delegates jetted out of Durban on Tuesday, hours after announcing their withdrawal from the World Conference Against Racism, representatives of NGOs and human rights organizations continued to condemn the move.
The joint decision by the US and Israeli delegations was taken on Monday after a declaration adopted by NGOs called on the UN to implement sanctions against Israel, accusing it of genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people.
It also labelled Israel an apartheid state and called on the UN to equate Zionism with racism.
A Palestinian delegation accused the US of coming to the conference to protect Israel which it described as the world's only apartheid regime.
Ameer Makhoul, Director of the Network of Palestinian NGOs, said the US had attempted to change the declaration which was adopted by NGOs from around the world "through undemocratic and non-transparent means".
Rana Nashashibi, a Palestinian human rights activist, said the US must take full responsibility for its early withdrawal.
"What the US has done is to demonstrate how it feels about the Third World and their grievances", she said.
Meanwhile, South Africa's ruling African National Congress said the withdrawal had demonstrated "beyond reasonable doubt" that the US, which boycotted two previous World Conferences Against Racism in 1978 and 1983 over debates to equate Zionism with racism, is not committed to dealing with the scourge of racism which is rampant in its own back yard.
"We would have expected US government to be the leading light in showing seriousness on this question as they always project themselves as the standard of justice, democracy and human rights.
"Right from the beginning of the preparations for the WCAR, they have been consistently bent on disrupting and sabotaging the conference.
"What they have done by withdrawing is the last straw, consistent with their utter disgust to all attempts of eradicating racism in the world.
A country that owes its being to slavery and colonialism should be ashamed of itself," said ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama, in a statement.
Despite the walkout by Israel and the US, delegates at the inter-governmental forum have been working around the clock to complete its declaration which will be formally handed over to the UN conference later on Tuesday.

04 september 2001 11:00:00

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