Icelandic MPs Condemn Gaza Attacks

MPs from three opposition parties in the Foreign Affairs Committee condemned the Israeli army’s attacks on civilians in Gaza in a committee protocol this morning, RÚV reports. The Progressive Party’s parliamentary MPs also released a statement condemning the Israeli army’s attacks on Palestinians, calling them a gross violation of international agreements and international law as well as a crime against humanity. MPs from both governing and opposition parties put forth a resolution yesterday proposing that Alþingi condemn the Israeli military’s acts of violence against the Palestinian nation.

Iceland’s parliament discussed the ongoing violence in Palestine and Israel today. Social-Democratic Alliance MP Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir called it “intolerable” that air strikes were targeted at civilians and criticised other MPs in the Foreign Affairs Committee for not taking a stand for human rights. “It is noteworthy that MPs from the Left-Green Movement or the Progressive Party did not trust themselves to be included in this protocol, which was submitted and approved by MPs from the other parties.” She said their abstinence was a disappointment and accused the two parties of being “under the heel” of the Independence Party. The three parties – Left-Green, Progressive, and Independent – currently form the governing coalition under Left-Green Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. Both Bryndís Haraldsdóttir, MP for the Independence Party, and Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, MP for the Left-Greens, agreed with Rósa Björk and called for a ceasefire.

Discuss Gaza With US Secretary of State

Iceland’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Prime Minister, and President all discussed the situation in Gaza with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday during his official visit in Reykjavík. Upon his arrival to Harpa concert hall yesterday morning, Blinken was greeted by a group of protesters holding signs in support of Palestine. During a press conference shortly after, Blinken referenced US President Joe Biden’s recent statement that “Israel, like every country, has the right to defend itself against attacks.” He added, however, that the US’ goal is “to bring the current cycle of violence to an end as quickly as possible.” Both the US and Iceland officially support a two-state solution for the region.

Iceland has shown both official and unofficial support of the Palestinian cause in recent years. In 2011, Iceland was the first Western country to recognise Palestine as an independent state. In 2019, Iceland’s national broadcaster RÚV was fined by the European Broadcasting Union due to the behaviour of Iceland’s representatives Hatari at the Eurovision Song Contest that year, which took place in Israel. The band members of Hatari brandished banners reading “Palestine” in the Palestinian flag colours in the Eurovision green room during the event’s live filming.

Second COVID-19 Infection in Iceland’s Eurovision Delegation

Daði Freyr og gagnamagnið Eurovision 2021

Update May 19, 12:54: The EBU has released a statement confirming that Daði og gagnamagnið will neither perform at the Thursday semi-finals nor the Saturday finals of the 2021 Eurovision Songcontest. A recording of their second rehearsal in Rotterdam will be used as their entry.

One of the members of Daði og gagnamagnið, Iceland’s representatives in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, has tested positive for COVID-19. Daði himself announced the development this morning on Twitter. The band will consequently not perform in the Eurovision semi-finals tomorrow night and a recording from their second rehearsal will instead be used as their entry.

In a tearful video posted in Gagnamagnið’s Instagram stories, band member Jóhann Sigurður Jóhannsson came forward to tell fans he is the member who tested positive. “I’m really shocked and disappointed and generally just really sad about the whole situation,” Jóhann stated, adding that he did everything he could to stay safe. The Icelandic delegation entered quarantine and underwent testing earlier this week after an infection arose in the Polish Eurovision team. Jóhann is the second member of the Icelandic group to test positive – the first is a crew member and not a performer. Jóhann assured supporters that he was healthy but disappointed as the group had worked so hard and the performance had been “so long in the making.”

In a Twitter thread from this morning announcing the development, Daði Freyr stated that the band was “very happy” with the taped performance that will be used on Thursday night and “super excited” for supporters to watch it.

The Eurovision finals take place on Saturday. It is unclear whether Iceland will be able to perform live at the event.

Parking Fee Implemented at Reykjanes Eruption Site

Tourists catch a selfie with the flowing lava in Geldingadalur on the Reykjanes peninsula while a search-and-rescue volunteer monitors the area

Landowners have implemented a parking fee of ISK 1,000 ($8.13/€6.66) at the site of the ongoing eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula. Signs were placed in the makeshift parking lots by the hiking path this morning and an online payment system is now active. The proceeds will be used to build up infrastructure in the area, including permanent parking lots and roads to improve accessibility to the eruption.

“It’s come to the point that there’s a need for considerable construction in the area so it’s inevitable for landowners to take this route,” Sigurður Guðjón Gíslason told mbl.is. Sigurður is one of around 20 owners of the land named Hraun, on which the eruption began on March 19 and continues two months later. He says the money collected via parking fees will be used to build a new parking lot closer to the eruption itself as well as a road to ensure visitors’ safety and ease access to the eruption. The construction projects should shorten the hike to the eruption by three kilometres (1.8 miles). Visitors are already able to pay for parking as of today and electronic monitoring will start in the coming days.

Read More: Plans for Parking Lots, Paths, and Park Wardens at Eruption Site

Signs placed at the location read: “Parking fees are necessary to increase security, improve access and services and to protect nature. Thanks for your understanding.”