Palestinians call for boycott of Jerusalem conference

AFP , Thursday 17 Feb 2011

A Palestinian official calls on the international community to boycott a tourism conference planned for Jerusalem by the Israeli government

The Palestinian tourism minister on Thursday called on the international community to boycott a tourism conference planned for Jerusalem, saying it would boost Israel's claim to all of the Holy City.

"It is particularly problematic for international officials to participate in such a conference at this critical time," Tourism Minister Khulud Daibes said in a statement.

"Especially when intense international efforts are underway to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the final status of Jerusalem," she said.

The conference, organized in part by the Jerusalem municipality, is set for the end of March. The municipality declined to comment on the boycott call.

Last year, an Economic Cooperation and Development tourism conference went ahead in Jerusalem, despite calls from the Palestinians and the Arab League to boycott it.

Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov had sparked a row with the OECD when he suggested that the conference constituted international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The minister, from the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, later backed away from the remarks, saying the gathering was "apolitical and strictly professional."

The fate of Jerusalem, with major holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, has been one of the most intractable issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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