Israel protests European Parliament conference plan
BRUSSELS, Aug 13 (Reuters) Israel has protested to the European Parliament about plans to host a conference under the auspices of a U N committee for Palestinian rights, saying it was biased and anti-Israeli, a spokesman said today.
Israel's ambassador to the European Union wrote to the president of the European Parliament last week urging reconsideration of plans to host the UN International Conference of Civilian Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace from August 30-31.
The conference has been called under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which was established in 1975 and Israel considers anti-Israeli.
''To put it mildly, this is not the most balanced committee in the United Nations,'' said Sagi Karni, spokesman for the Israeli mission to the European Union. ''This committee is very biased and often their discussions are aimed at Israel-bashing.'' A spokesman for European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said the president was on leave and had no immediate comment. He said Poettering had not had a say in the decision to host the conference, which was taken by the political parties.
The leader of the Conservative group in the European Parliament, Timothy Kirkhope, said that while political groups may have signed off on the conference, he was uncomfortable about the plan to host it.
''I am always very nervous when I hear of these conferences ... I do not like them, particularly if they are sponsored by a narrow political pressure group,'' he said.
Kirkhope said he was concerned that the event might be used to provide a platform for Hamas, the militant group elected into power in the Palestinian territories last year but considered a terrorist group by the European Union.
''That would be unhelpful for the Israelis and also to the Palestinians themselves,'' he said.