Iceland Mag

4 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Politics

City councilmen protest human rights violations in a letter to Israeli Ambassador, mull a new boycott

By Staff

  • Councilman Björn Blöndal and the letter Four city councilmembers handed the Israeli ambassador a strongly worded letter, urging Israel to "honour the human rights of the Palestinian people". Photo/visir.is

The Israeli ambassador to Iceland, Raphael Schutz met with Reykjavík City Council yesterday to discuss, among other things, the city’s relations to Israel, following the recent decision by the city to boycott Israeli goods. The decision was withdrawn after harsh criticism, both within Iceland and internationally.

Read more: Reykjavík City will boycott Israeli products

A strongly worded letter of protest
As the ambassador met with members of City Council four members of the ruling coalition handed him a letter with their formal protests and a call on Israel to “cease the occupation in Palestine, honour the human rights of the Palestinian people, recognize the State of Palestine and act in accordance with all resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations”.

Each of the four City Council members comes from one of the four parties which make up the ruling coalition in City Hall. S. Björn Blöndal, from the centrist Bright Future, Skúli Helgason from the Social democratic alliance, Halldór Auðar Svansson, from the Pirate party and Líf Magneudóttir, from the Left-green alliance. The national congress of the Left-green alliance, held over last weekend, resolved that Iceland should break off diplomatic relations with Israel in protest of its occupation of Palestinian territories.

Considering a new, better prepared boycott
Björn Blöndal tells the local news site visir.is that he, and other councilmen are still considering some form of a targeted or limited boycott of Israeli goods to put pressure on Israel. However, he argues that any such action would need to be well prepared and preferably done as part of joint action by the city councils of the other Nordic countries. When the earlier boycott decision was withdrawn Dagur B. Eggertsson, the mayor of Reykjavík argued one reason it was being withdrawn was that it had been poorly prepared.

Read more: Mayor: Poorly prepared boycott motion has damaged City Hall majority

Starkly devided opinion on the Icelandic decisions
The ambassador of Israel to Iceland tells the local news site visir.is that he feels both the decision of City council, which was later withdrawn, and the resolution of the national congress of the Left-green alliance, are wrong, and describes them as characterized by irresponsibility. At the same time he is pleased the city withdrew its decision.

At the same time the ambassador of Palestine to Iceland, Mufaz Shami, told visir.is he was thankful for the support he felt in Iceland for the cause of Palestine, arguing he was especially thankful the Icelandic nation seemed to be well informed when it came to international affairs. “The Icelandic nation does not only watch one side, but both sides. She knows the Israeli version of this story, and it recognizes the Palestinian side of the story, and is capable of making up its own mind.”

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