UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
London mayor Boris Johnson cut short a visit to Palestinian territories in the West Bank, the Guardian reported Wednesday, due to security concerns following his comments in recent days concerning the Palestinian BDS movement against Israel.
Johnson was due to meet with a Palestinian youth group, female businesswomen, and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Yet his invitation to two of the meetings was retracted following what they referred to as "inaccurate, misinformed, and disrespectful" remarks concerning BDS. His meeting with Hamdallah was expected to take place as scheduled.
The London mayor on Monday lashed out against Israel-boycotters, referring to them as a "a bunch of corduroy-jacketed lefty academics."
"I cannot think of anything more foolish than to say you want to have any kind of divestment or sanctions or boycott against a country that, when all is said and done, is the only democracy in the region, is the only place that has, in my view, a pluralist open society,” Johnson had said.
His comments, conveyed to reporters on Monday, have since made waves on social media and raised concerns for his safety in Palestinian territories.
The Palestinian youth group retracted its invite to Johnson, saying his statements reflected a stance which "failed to acknowledge" Palestinian existence. It claimed that Johnson "consciously denies the reality of the 'occupation' that continues to oppress Palestinians," and, as such, should not be given a forum at which to speak.
His meeting with Palestinian businesswomen was called off for similar reasons.
The London mayor said his comments had been "very much whipped up on social media."
“I think that some people have taken remarks I made about the boycott, which is after all British government policy, they’ve taken offense of that," he said.
"If...people are making threats...that's very sad," Johnson said, addressing the security concerns.