Dear Dov Alfon,
We were surprised to read that a professional gathering of international tourism ministers under OECD auspices is apparently being used to advance national political goals that bear no relation to the issues to be discussed at the meeting ( “UK, Spain to boycott tourism conference because it’s in Jerusalem” on 5 October).
Your readers should know that OECD member countries agreed to hold the 86th meeting of the Tourism Committee in Israel in January of this year. The meeting serves as a forum to exchange of views on tourism policy issues.
As the OECD regularly organises meetings outside its Paris headquarters and has previously held meetings in various cities in both Member and non-Member countries, to do so in this case is neither exceptional nor unprecedented.
It is for individual OECD member countries to decide on participation at such meetings including the level and size of their national delegations.
Once the decision was taken by Israel to host the meeting in Jerusalem, the OECD Secretariat consistently and repeatedly impressed on the Israeli authorities the need to ensure the event take place in the western part of the city, in order to preserve the professional character of the event and avoid any misinterpretations.
Furthermore, we have repeatedly stated that the holding of a meeting of an OECD body in any city is without prejudice to the status of that city under international law.
Director of the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development (CFE) and Head of the Local Economic and Employment Development programme