Mayor of Reykjavík Dagur B. Eggertsson announced today on Icelandic national broadcaster RÚV that Reykjavík City Council will cancel its previously-announced boycott of Israeli products, explaining that the city will now only boycott goods produced in occupied territories.
The original boycott, included in a motion presented by Björk Vilhelmsdóttir of the Social Democrats earlier this week, was approved by the majority of councilpersons. Dagur admitted that the motion hadn’t been prepared well enough and that it will now be changed and clarified.
“I have stated that it should have been made much clearer in the text [that only products from territories occupied by Israel should be boycotted], although that’s what we had in mind. I will suggest to the City Council that the motion the way it reads now be withdrawn while we discuss the next steps and how to present it,” the mayor said.
Dagur added that he usually prepares big decisions carefully. “I must admit that I’m angry at myself for not having done this the way I wanted.” He added that he was surprised at the reaction to the city’s decision. “I expected a reaction but not on this scale. It appears to be a stronger reaction than when Iceland declared support for an independent Palestine [in 2011].”
The council’s decision proved highly controversial and received harsh criticism from Israeli authorities as well as Icelandic officials, such as Independence Party councilperson Kjartan Magnússon, while Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson called it “ridiculous.” The Simon Wiesenthal Center has advised Jews not to travel to Iceland. The center is “a global human rights organization researching the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context,” as described on the center’s website.
“I had a good conversation today with Mayor of Copenhagen Frank Jensen, who has gone through the same … thing. The first news stories had the same interpretation, that Copenhagen was to boycott all products from Israel, and Frank had to put a lot of effort into correcting it. … That’s part of the project ahead, to deliver a clear message,” Dagur concluded.
The mayor expects to discuss the matter in a meeting with the City Council next Thursday.