More and more Western countries are either announcing their boycott or are threatening to boycott Durban II, a United Nations conference scheduled for April to review progress made since the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) held in Durban, South Africa in 2001, nicknamed Durban I. Earlier this month, Italy became the first EU member to withdraw from the event, stating that it could not endorse a draft agenda that criticizes Israel. Italy followed in the footsteps of Israel, Canada and the United States. France and the Netherlands are threatening their own boycotts. Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch foreign minister, recently explained that "The Netherlands will not be party to a propaganda circus."
In December 2008, Verhagen claimed that the 2001 summit was an "anti-Semitic witch-hunt."Perhaps in September 2001, the world was not yet ready to accept the notion that Israel is in fact practicing apartheid. But ever more observers are coming to precisely that conclusion. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman warned four years ago that "if Israel does not relinquish the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinians will soon outnumber the Jews and Israel will become either an apartheid state or a non-Jewish state."
Four years later, Friedman wrote, "Well, having taken a little drive through part of the West Bank, as I always do when I visit, it strikes me more than ever that it's not only five after midnight, it's five after midnight and a whole week later."
The Israeli organization Peace Now stated early in March that Israel's housing ministry has plans that would nearly double the number of settlers in the West Bank, rendering a two-state solution impossible. Israel has planned 73,000 new housing units in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli group stated, of which 15,000 have already received approval. Moreover, Israel's prime minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu announced that a government he leads will expand settlements.
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