Tel Aviv peace concert cancelled

Earlier, simultaneous Jericho concert cancelled; Organizer: Palestinian participants were threatened.

By ETGAR LEFKOVITS, MATTHEW WAGNER
October 14, 2007 17:27
3 minute read.

A Tel Aviv concert in support of a two-state solution has been canceled after a simultaneous concert planned in Jericho was called off due to security concerns, organizers said Sunday. The two events, which were scheduled to take place on Thursday and be broadcast around the world, had been planned for the last year by the US-based One Voice organization as part of an international campaign to collect a million signatures in favor of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement within the next year. "We felt that we had to take a difficult decision and postpone the Israeli event in solidarity with the situation on the Palestinian side," said group founder Daniel Lubetzky. He added that holding only an Israeli event would not be consistent with the organization's goals. The group had previously said as late as this weekend that the Tel Aviv concert would take place as planned, even after the Jericho event was canceled. Lubetzky called the situation a "sobering sincere setback," and conceded that the group's plans had been "derailed by extremists' agenda." The original decision to nix the Jericho concert came after Palestinian participants were threatened. "For security reasons we cannot have the concert at this time," Nisreen Shahin, Executive Director of One Voice Palestine said on Friday. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement late Thursday distancing himself from the planned event, and emphasizing that his office had no connection to the concert. The Jericho event had previously drawn criticism from a small Palestinian terror organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, for its attempt to normalize ties with Israel. A Palestinian Internet posting had threatened to "wipe out" the Palestinian offices of the organization, a group spokeswoman said. The decision to cancel the event in the quiet desert oasis of Jericho - considered to be the most peaceful of all West Bank cities - cast a pall on the organization's efforts to promote a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines in the Palestinian territories. The organization, which maintains offices in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah, has enlisted the support of nearly 600,000 Israelis and Palestinians - in about equal numbers - for their petition which calls a peace agreement to be reached within a year based on a two-state solution. The group's Web site had previously stated that such an accord should be based on the 1967 lines, but, in an abrupt about-face, that reference was removed on Sunday. Following the violent takeover of Gaza by Hamas this summer, the organization froze its signature drive in the area, and enlisted Palestinian supporters, primarily in the West Bank. Canadian rock singer Bryan Adams, who had a series of award-winning albums during the 1980s and mid-1990s, was to have performed at both concerts, along with Israeli artists in Tel Aviv and Palestinian performers in Jericho. Earlier, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger, under pressure from right-wing rabbis and MKs, withdrew his support for the Tel Aviv event, a spokesman said Sunday. Last week, Metzger had sent a video-taped message of blessings to be screened during the Tel Aviv concert since he did not want to appear on the same stage with female singers. But in the wake of a Jerusalem Post report which appeared last week about the One Voice campaign and Metzger's involvement at the event, the chief rabbi was inundated with calls from irate rabbis both in the Diaspora and in Israel and by right-wing MKs who called on Metzger to pull the video. "The chief rabbi does not get involved in political causes," Metzger's spokesman said Sunday. "Initially Rabbi Metzger thought the organization's goal was to voice moderate views on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But after the report in The Jerusalem Post it came to our attention that One Voice has a political agenda which includes territorial compromises." The spokesman acknowledged that the chief rabbi was fully aware that One Voice advocated a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Nevertheless, he said that Metzger was swayed by the negative responses in the wake of the Post report.


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