The capital of Iceland has modified its boycott of Israeli products to include only products from over the Green Line, Mayor of Reykjavik Dagur B. Eggertsson announced on RUV, the Icelandic national public-service broadcasting organization.
Eggertsson said he will recommend to the Reykjavik City Council that they amend the proposal to boycott only those goods produced in areas of Israel that are considered to be “occupied territories.”
“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,” he said.
While noting the “poorly prepared” boycott, the mayor also expressed his surprise at the strong negative reaction from across the world. “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,” Eggertsson said.
The original boycott proposal was submitted last Wednesday by Björk Vilhelmsdóttir, a councilwoman for the Social Democratic Alliance. Her resolution called for the boycott of all products from Israel for what she explained is the duration of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. Vilhelmsdóttir is soon retiring and this was considered to be her last act as a city councilwoman. Her husband, Sveinn Runar Hauksson, is the head of the Iceland-Palestine Association.
The proposal was accepted by the Reykjavik City Council with a majority of votes, with city councilors from the Independence party voting against the proposal. Representatives of the Independence Party made an announcement after the vote, stating that they are against violations of human rights but were not convinced that this sort of action would do anything to help better the lives of the Palestinians.
The explanatory memorandum states that the boycott is a symbolic gesture to show support for the Palestinians’ right to independence. It also condemns “the Israeli policy of apartheid.”
The prime minister of Iceland criticized the boycott, saying it was “absurd” and that it damaged the reputation and commercial interests of Iceland.
Iceland’s Foreign Ministry said to the Times of Israel 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.”
Boycotts of this type may become a growing phenomenon in the wake of a recent European Union vote in favor of guidelines requiring the labeling of consumer products from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights.