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Reykjavík Withdraws Israeli Boycott

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Reykjavík Withdraws Israeli Boycott

Reykjavík City Hall

Reykjavík City Hall. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The Reykjavík City Council yesterday withdrew a motion regarding the boycott of products from Israel, according to a press release from the City of Reykjavík. The motion was passed September 15 and received a strong reaction, not only from Israel, but from people all over the world.

The motion was intended as a symbolic gesture to protest the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and it was the last proposal of Björk Vilhelmsdóttir, a city council member who is about to leave her post, but the reaction to it was considerably stronger than the city council ever expected. There even were calls for Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson to resign.

A number of Icelandair and WOW Air passengers canceled their trips to Iceland in response to the boycott, and tourist agencies reported cancelations. Businesses, such as Nordic Store, have received cancelations of orders, and The Icelandic beer Einstök was taken off the shelves of a supermarket chain on the East Coast of the US, Vísir reports.

September 19, Höskuldur H. Ólafsson, head of Arion Bank, forwarded an email to the mayor of Reykjavík. The email was from Eggert Dagbjartsson, managing partner of Equity Resource Investments, dated September 18, and addressed to Höskuldur. In it, Eggert voices concern that the proposed boycott could potentially have a negative effect on the Marriott Hotel planned to be constructed next to Harpa concert hall in Reykjavík, since key people responsible for making the hotel project a success are Jewish Americans. The email urges the bank director to use his influence to have the motion withdrawn.

The email was made public in a press release from the City of Reykjavík. In his email, Höskuldur tells the mayor he finds it likely that similar emails will be sent to the bank regarding other proposed projects.

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