Australia opts out of Geneva conference

December 18, 2014 Agencies
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Australia boycotted a conference in Switzerland discussing the Fourth Geneva Convention and the situation in the Palestinian territories due to concerns about the conference’s anti-Israel bias.

Ambassador Dave Sharma

Ambassador Dave Sharma

Australian Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma, meanwhile, said on Twitter that Australia “will not be attending today’s special conference in Geneva on the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

The Fourth Geneva Convention—which provides for humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone and all 196 members of the U.N. are signatories too—has often been used by critics of Israel to condemn Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

Canada also chose not to attend.

“Canada has conveyed its deep concerns and has communicated clearly that it will neither attend this conference nor lend it any credibility,” Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said in a statement earlier this week.

“Canada is deeply disappointed by the convening of this one-sided and politicized conference, which serves only to single out one country, Israel, for criticism,” he said. “Canada has complete faith in the strength of the rule of law in Israel, and we believe the Israelis are capable of investigating matters surrounding the events that took place in Gaza in the summer of 2014.”

At the Swiss conference, 126 of the 196 parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention adopted a declaration that humanitarian law must be followed in areas affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Associated Press reported.

The declaration also said that Israel should “fully and effectively” respect the Fourth Geneva Convention.

“This is a signal and we can hope that words count,” said Paul Fivat, Switzerland’s special ambassador for the Geneva Conventions.

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