Boris Johnson has had to cut short his visit to the occupied Palestinian territories after his Israel boycott criticism sparked outrage.
The Mayor of London’s planned visit to Palestine visit was axed after organisers accused him of adopting a “misinformed and disrespectful” pro-Israel stance.
“I cannot think of anything more foolish than to say that you want to have any kind of divestments 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, pluralist, open society – why boycott Israel,” Johnson told local media.
“I think there’s some misunderstanding over here about it. The supporters of this so-called boycott are really just a bunch of corduroy-jacketed … lefty academics who have no real standing in the matter and I think are highly unlikely to be influential in Britain,” he added.
The Mirror reports: Speaking at an event in Tel-Aviv, he described a trade boycott of Israel would be “completely crazy” and blamed “corduroy jacketed, snaggletoothed, lefty academics in the UK” for pursuing it.
The London mayor said his comments had been “very much whipped up” on social media.
He said the office of Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah told him his security was “perhaps at risk” if he visited the West Bank, amid fears of protests.
Two of the groups due to host events insisted they refused to welcome Mr Johnson, with the Sharek Youth Form saying he had failed to acknowledge “our very existence as Palestinians”.
The Association of Engineers added they were protesting at his “sarcasm” on the Israeli goods boycott movement and his ignorance of Israeli “crimes”.
Shortly after he entered the Palestinian city of Ramallah news emerged that his appearances at three scheduled events had been binned.
He was due to meet young Palestinians, female business leaders and discuss affordable housing.
Mr Johnson told reporters worries over security emerged after people took offence to his remarks on the boycott, adding this had been “very much whipped up” on social media.
During his three-day trade trip to Israel and Palestine, the Conservative MP also questioned the logic of shunning the Middle East’s one “functioning democracy”.
The Sharek Youth Forum later said: “Following Johnson’s inaccurate, misinformed and disrespectful statement regarding the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement on November 9, stating that he ‘cannot think of anything more foolish’, it is our conclusion, supported by the Palestinian youth that we represent, he consciously denies the reality of the occupation that continues to oppress them and all Palestinians.