Several Palestinian and European groups have called on the European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, to not participate in a conference against the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, where he will speak at a panel alongside West Bank settler leader Dani Dayan.
.@EUinIsrael as head of the Yesha Council Dayan was responsible for violations of int law. Does EU usually speak alongside criminals?— BDS Movement (@BDSmovement) March 24, 2016
“The EU’s ambassador to Israel sharing a conference platform with a key leader of the settler movement would make a mockery of the EU’s supposed opposition to the continued construction of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land,” Europe campaigns officer for BDS Riya Hassan said in a statement from the Palestinian BDS National Committee.
“What use are the EU’s regular condemnations of the ongoing expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements if they will speak on panels that aim to legitimize them alongside settler movement leaders?”
The BDS movement and other activist groups also sent a letter to the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, condemning Faaborg-Andersen’s attendance to the conference and pointing to the fact that the BDS is a civil society movement and that EU states and governments had no business interfering with its activities or participating in efforts at quashing it.
“Regardless of its position on BDS, an inclusive, nonviolent movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality, the EU should respect the voice of the absolute majority of Palestinian civil society as well as the voices of a fast growing cross-section of European civil society that stand behind this movement,” the letter read.
“By sending its Tel Aviv ambassador to speak at this anti-BDS conference, the EU will signal to Palestinians that it has failed, again, to hold Israel accountable for its serious violations of international law and that it is now shamelessly joining Israel in its propaganda war on Palestinian human rights.”
While several EU nations, such as France and the United Kingdom, have been cracking down on BDS activists and campaigners, in a statement to The Electronic Intifada last week Sweden acknowledged the BDS as “a civil society movement,” pointing out that “governments should not interfere in civil society organization views.”
However, the EU mission has dismissed any wrongdoing. “Settlements are illegal,” Faaborg-Anderson’s office tweeted in response to a tweet by the BDS movement account. “In Israel we quite often speak on panels of people with different views on an issue.”
.@BDSmovement No. Settlements are illegal. In Israel we quite often speak on panels of people with different views on an issue.— EU in Israel (@EUinIsrael) March 24, 2016
While the EU publically denounces Israeli settlements and labels them illegal, the organization has been criticized for its failure to take concrete actions to end the the settlements.
On Thursday, EU governments abstained from voting to create a database of all companies that operate in Israeli settlements as part a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution. The resolution passed despite major lobbying by the United States, Israel and the U.K. against it.
WATCH: Italian Academics Support Boycott Campaign Against Israeli Institutions