Icelandic capital backs down on full-scale Israel boycott

Published September 20th, 2015 - 09:16 GMT

A controversial and harshly criticized decision by the Reykjavik City Council this week to boycott Israeli products will be retracted, Reykjavik Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson said Saturday, according to local website Iceland Monitor.

The proposal will be amended to indicate that the Council will be boycotting only those goods produced “in occupied areas,” the website reported, citing the mayor.

On Tuesday, the Reykjavik City Council voted in favor of a general boycott of Israeli goods “as long as the occupation of Palestinian territories continues,” Iceland Magazine reported.

Council members said the boycott was a symbolic act demonstrating the Icelandic capital’s support for Palestinian statehood and condemnation of Israel’s “policy of apartheid.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry condemned the move, and, in an apparent reference to Iceland’s status as a hotbed of volcanic activity, said “a volcano of hatred spews forth from the Reykjavik city council building.

“For no reason or justification, except hatred for its own sake, calls of boycotting the state of Israel are heard,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We hope someone in Iceland will come to their senses and end the one-sided blindness fielded against Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.”

On Thursday Iceland’s Foreign Ministry distanced itself from the decision, saying the move was “not in line” with the country’s foreign policy.

Speaking to The Times of Israel, a spokesperson of the island nation’s government said that: “The Ministry for Foreign Affairs wishes to underline that the City Council’s decision is not in line with Iceland’s foreign policy nor does it reflect on Iceland’s relations with the State of Israel.”

Earlier Saturday, before the retraction was announced, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid announced that he published an op-ed in two Icelandic publications entitled “The Hypocrisy of [a] Boycott.”

In the piece, also published on his Facebook profile, Lapid rails against the now-amended decision, firing off questions such as: “Does the boycott include products made by Israel’s Arab minority which is 20% of the population? …the 14 Arab Israeli parliamentarians who sit beside me in Israel’s parliament?…Israeli factories which employ tens of thousands of Palestinians for whom this is the only opportunity to provide for their children?…Israeli hospitals at which tens of thousands of Palestinians are treated every year?”

“Does the boycott include Microsoft Office, cellphone cameras, Google – all of which contain elements invented or produced in Israel?” he goes on.

“If the answer to all these questions is ‘yes’ then I’ll move aside and wish you all an enjoyable life until the sadly unavoidable heart attack (sorry but pacemakers are also an Israeli invention),” he said.

Lapid goes on to criticize the boycott movement as a whole, arguing that its “purpose is not the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel but a Palestinian state on the ashes of Israel.”

By Ilan Ben Zion

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