Protest, Parliamentary Resolution Call for Immediate Gaza Ceasefire

Protestors outside US Embassy in Reykjavík

Demonstrators gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavík to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. A few hours before the protest, the Icelandic Parliament unanimously passed a resolution calling for the same thing, condemning violence against civilians and calling for adherence to international laws.

Protestors call for “immediate ceasefire”

A number of people gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy, near the Laugardalur neighbourhood in Reykjavík, to partake in a protest under the banner “Immediate Ceasefire” yesterday. The protest began at 5 PM, with speakers including Dr. Sveinn Rúnar Hauksson, physician and Chair of the Iceland-Palestine Association, and activist Lisa Mackey, Vísir reports.

A few hours before the protests, Parliament approved a resolution from the Foreign Affairs Committee calling for a ceasefire, with all votes in favour.

“The Parliament resolves that an immediate ceasefire for humanitarian reasons must be established in the Gaza region to ensure the safety of civilians, both Palestinian and Israeli. The Parliament condemns all acts of violence directed against civilians in Palestine and Israel. The Parliament demands that international laws be fully adhered to in the interest of humanity, the safety of civilians, and the protection of civil infrastructure,” the Parliamentary resolution reads, which, as noted by Mbl.is, was passed unanimously with 49 votes, following two discussions at yesterday’s parliamentary session.

Important to send a clear message

The resolution states that the Parliament condemns the terrorist attacks by Hamas on civilians in Israel that began on October 7. Similarly, the Parliament condemns all actions by Israeli authorities in the aftermath that violate international humanitarian laws, including the immense suffering, casualties, civilian deaths, and destruction of civil infrastructure. It is imperative that all violations of international laws by the warring parties be thoroughly investigated.

“The Parliament calls for humane treatment and immediate resolution of hostages, access for aid and humanitarian organisations, and that emergency shelter and medical assistance be provided to the public without delay,” it states. Additionally, the government was tasked with contributing additional aid for humanitarian assistance and investigating violations of international laws to follow up on the emphases outlined in the resolution.

As noted by Mbl.is, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, in her comments on the vote, thanked the Foreign Affairs Committee for its excellent work in highlighting clear viewpoints reflected in the proposal and for achieving this consensus. She stated it was extremely important for Iceland to send such clear messages to the international community, a clear will of the Parliament for an immediate ceasefire, and for the respect of international laws in the interest of humanity. “I want to take this opportunity to say that I am very proud to belong to the Parliament of Iceland at such times,” Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated.

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.