Israel "regrets" U.K. boycott of OECD's Jerusalem venue

14:17, October 06, 2010      

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Britain plans not to attend the upcoming annual Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conference due to its Jerusalem venue, according to the Israeli Tourism Ministry.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov responded to the boycott, saying he "regrets that there are some representatives from the OECD states that are not attending," according to ministry spokesperson Lydia Weitzman, who spoke to Xinhua Tuesday.

The status of Jerusalem has been a disputed and sensitive issue of Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Israel views the holy city as its "indivisible" capital. While the international community considers the eastern Jerusalem as occupied territory, and the Palestinians want to build their future state with East Jerusalem as the capital.

"OECD officials demanded that we not bring the delegates to East Jerusalem, or that we move the conference to Tel Aviv," local daily Haaretz quoted Misezhnikov as saying.

"If we agreed to that, they promised to send many delegates," he said. However, Tourism and Foreign Ministry officials "decided to reject" holding the event in Tel Aviv.

The tourism minister charged that the Palestinians have expressed to some OECD members their discontent about the meeting' s venue, according to Haaretz.

The theme of this year's conference will focus on sustainable tourism, the ministry said. The event would feature what the ministry touted as a "unique blueprint" at the conference aimed at encouraging so-called "green tourism."

"This is vital for our efforts to attract both tourists and investors for our own tourism industry. The decision by these 15 member-countries and tourism officials to attend this conference is an important vote of confidence in our tourism industry and undoubtedly contributes to our positive image," the minister said.

Sixteen countries are expected to attend the conference, to be held on Oct. 20-22, according to the ministry, and senior Israeli officials expected to attend the event include President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer.

It will be the second time in the OECD's 86-year history to hold the event outside of the French capital, and Israel's first major entree to the group since being voted aboard in May.

Source: Xinhua


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