Israel’s representative to the International Olive Council (IOC) has formally accused the United Nations-sanctioned organization of blocking its proxy representative from attending last month’s Council of Members meeting in Morocco.
See more: Documents Detail Exclusion of Israeli Rep at Olive Council Meeting
Adi Naali, the head of Israel’s delegation to the IOC, was unable to attend the meeting and instead named Ignazio Castellucci, an adjunct professor of law at the University of Teramo in Italy, as his replacement.
On June 21, at the start of the Council of Members meeting, Naali alleges that Castellucci was repeatedly denied access to the meeting. At the time, Castellucci was told that he did not have the proper credentials.
According to documents obtained by Olive Oil Times, Naali was told by the IOC’s credentials committee, which provides accreditation to each member country’s delegates for the Council of Members meeting, that they had received his email naming Castellucci as his replacement, but Naali was not the appropriate authority to name a replacement and accreditation from Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was required.
See more: IOC News
Naali disputes the claim that he was not the appropriate authority to name a replacement, citing a 2013 instance in which he was also unable to attend the Council of Members meeting and successfully named the Turkish delegate as his proxy.
In an email dated May 24, 2013, which was included in the documents, Naadi wrote to the Executive Secretariat stating that, “Israel would like to authorize the delegate of Turkey to represent its interests at the close of the 100th session.”
A press release dated one day later stated that Israel authorized the Turkish delegate to represent its interests at the IOC Council of Members meeting. There appears to have been no problem with the Turkish delegate attending the meeting as a proxy for Israel.
The documents also contain an email dated June 20 that appears to have an official letterhead from the Israeli government. Yakov Poleg, the deputy director of the Foreign Trade Center at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, wrote to Abdellatif Ghedira, the executive director of the IOC, authorizing Castellucci to replace Naali at the Council of Members meeting.
The email was forwarded to the address used by the IOC Executive Secretariat by Naali the following day after Castellucci had allegedly been prevented from entering the meeting. In spite of sending the email at 9:37 AM local time in Morocco (11:37 AM in Israel), Castellucci did not receive accreditation and did not attend the meeting.
In spite of Israel’s absence, an IOC leadership vote went ahead at the meeting where Ghedira, Deputy Director Jaime Lillo, Mustafa Sepetçi, and the technical, economic and promotional units all received new mandates running through 2023.
It is unclear whether this outcome would have changed if Israel’s representative had been present and there is no evidence that any of the IOC’s rules were broken by going ahead with the leadership vote.
The documents obtained from a credible source by Olive Oil Times contain a letter from Naali to the IOC Chair and Heads of Delegation from IOC Members; two emails sent from Naali to the IOC Secretariat; a press release stating that the delegate from Turkey would represent Israel’s interests at the 2013 Council of Members meeting; and a detailed chronology of the events that took place on June 21 in the run-up to the IOC Council of Members meeting.
Questions remain and Olive Oil Times is in the process of following up to confirm certain details on the events that occurred at the June 21 meeting.
By the time of publication, the IOC, Naali and Castellucci had not responded to requests for comment. When they do, their responses will be included in updates.
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