Arab delegates boycott women’s rights speech by Israeli lawmaker

Arab representatives walked out on an address given by an Israeli lawmaker during a summit on female empowerment. 

By: World Israel News Staff

Some 15 representatives from Arab countries walked out on a speech delivered by Israeli Member of Knesset Aliza Lavie on Thursday during the Women Political Leaders (WPL) Annual Global Summit in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The high-level conference, hosted in cooperation with the Althingi, Iceland’s Parliament, and the Government of Iceland, was a unique gathering of at least 250 female political leaders.

Lavie, the head of the Knesset delegation to the conference, spoke about Israeli government offices’ obligation to submit a gender-based analysis of their budgets to the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, at her initiative.

The Arab representatives left the conference hall at the beginning of the speech. Responding, Lavie said in jest, “There is no need to leave; it will only take two minutes.” She then continued to speak uninterrupted.

She said it was regretful that the Arab representatives were unable to transcend politics. “It’s a shame,” she wrote on Facebook.
Lavie called the incident “unfortunate,” adding “we have so much to learn from one another. This is what we came for.”

Despite the incident, she said the summit was productive and inspiring.

Arab and Muslim representatives routinely boycott Israeli officials at international forums.

On Tuesday, during a panel discussion on women in the high-tech and innovation industries, MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin presented Israel as a start-up nation which prepares workers for and encourages the integration of women in all areas of industy.

Asked by an Algerian MP whether Palestinian women also benefit from this policy, Nahmias-Verbin detailed Israel’s efforts to integrate Arab-Israeli women in high-tech and said the country seeks regional and international cooperation in the field of innovation.