Iceland Mag

12 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Politics

Breaking: Reykjavík backs down on Israeli boycott

By Staff

  • Mayor backs down Dagur B. Eggertsson, the mayor of Reykjavík is "angry with himself" for having supported a boycott he now describes as poorly prepared. He will witdraw the decision. Photo/Vilhem Gunnarsson.

The mayor of Reykjavík, Dagur B. Eggertsson has told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV the decision to boycott Israeli products will be withdrawn. The reason, Dagur explained, was that the decision had been too hastily prepared.

Previously: Reykjavík City will boycott Israeli products

Mayor angry with himself
Dagur told RÚV he was "angry" with himself for having supported the original decision, which he described as "poorly prepared":

“Yes, the decision was poorly prepared. In the past I have taken great pride in preparing all big decisions thoroughly. I’ll admit here and now that I am angry with myself for not doing that, and for not having prepared the decision as well as I would have liked to. This was very unfortunate.” 

A poorly prepared and widely misunderstood boycott
The mayor and the City council had come under fire for the decision. It was not clear how the boycott would be implemented, what goods would be boycotted and how. Foreign media also seemed to have trouble understanding the scope or nature of the decision. Fox News had for example announced in a headline: “Iceland announces boycott of Israeli goods”. In fact, the boycott would only have affected purchases by city agencies – the city council has no power to set foreign policy nor can it ban the sale of Israeli goods within the city limits.

Read moreBoycott of Israeli goods by Reykjavík City stirs up a controversy: A “Volcano of Hate”

The original decision, approved by all members of the ruling left-wing coalition in City Hall and opposed by all members of the centre-right opposition, had directed city agencies to boycott all Israeli made goods. After the decision came under fire from Israeli authorities and Jewish organizations the mayor backtracked, announcing the decision had really been intended as a boycott of goods made in the occupied territories. Now, he has announced the original decision will be overturned and a new proposal put forward clarifying the boycott.

“I have previously stated that we could have been far clearer in the text of the decision, even if the idea had always been this. It is important we make absolutely clear that this was the case.” 

Dagur has previously stressed in interviews with the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service that the boycott would follow the precedent set by the city of Copenhagen, where the city council has resolved to boycott goods manufactured in the occupied territories. 

Negative reaction came as a surprise
He was also very surprised at the level of negative reaction the decision had received. “I did expect a reaction, but nothing like this. The reaction this decision has received appears to be much more intense than when Iceland recognized the state of Palestine.”

Read more: Reykjavík adopting an independent foreign policy: European Jewish Congress considers suing the City

The mayor and the majority in City hall have come under fire both internationally and domestically. The prime minister of Iceland has criticized the City, describing the decision as “absurd” arguing it damaged the reputation and commercial interests of Iceland.

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