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U.S. won’t participate in Durban III, State Dept. says

JTA

June 1, 2011 | 2:50 pm

The United States will not participate in Durban III, this September, the State Department said.

In a letter to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Joseph E. Macmanus, acting assistant secretary for legislative affairs, confirmed the United States would not attend the conference, which in its previous iterations has been a forum for anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.

In November, the U.S. voted against a United Nations resolution to establish the conference. The following month, Gillibrand led a coalition of 18 senators in signing a letter to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, urging the U.S. not to participate in the conference, scheduled for Sept. 21 in New York City.

The Durban Commemoration is meant to mark the ten-year anniversary of Durban I, during which the delegations from the United States and Israel walked out in protest as the tenor turned increasingly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.

“The United States will not participate in the Durban Commemoration. In December, we voted against the resolution establishing this event because the Durban process included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism, and we did not want to see that commemorated,” Macmanus wrote.

The U.S. and Israel, along with seven other countries, boycotted Durban II in 2009, during which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a keynote speech.

In November, Canada was the first country to announce it would not participate in Durban III. Israel announced it would boycott in the conference in December.

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