Arab League calls for boycott of Israel-hosted J’lem tourism conference

The League of Arab States on Sunday called on the world to boycott an international tourism conference to be hosted by Israel from 20 to 22 October in the city of Jerusalem.

"The Arab League is deeply concerned about the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)'s scheduled 'high-level tourism roundtable' and urges all countries to boycott the conference, since the fate of Jerusalem still depends on a fair settlement" of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Mohamed Sobeih told reporters.

Turkey, along with OECD members Britain and Spain, has announced plans to boycott the event. Spokesmen for the governments of Britain and Spain both said the decision was based on fears that holding the conference in Jerusalem might complicate ongoing direct peace talks between the two sides.

According to Sobeih, the league's Council of Arab Ambassadors has sent letters to respective European and non-European foreign ministers urging them to stay away from the conference.

Sobeih went on to explain that Israel frequently exploited such events in an effort to persuade global public opinion that Israel's bellicose positions, particularly those pertaining to the Palestinians, had met acceptance on the part of the international community.

Israel's tourism minister has previously stated that participation in the conference would constitute "recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital."

Sobeih, however, pointed out that most nations of the world–including the United States–continued to refuse to transfer their respective embassies from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem.

The international community does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In 1950, the self-proclaimed Jewish state declared West Jerusalem the nation's capital in violation of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which recommended that both Jerusalem and nearby Bethlehem be kept under international custodianship.

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