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Israeli performers boycott settlements

JERUSALEM, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Some of Israel's most prominent actors, artists and directors are refusing to perform in West Bank settlements.

More than 50 artists, actors, directors and playwrights signed a petition last week in response to a report in Haaretz that said some of Israel's leading theatrical groups planned to participate in the opening of a new cultural center in the West Bank city of Ariel in November.

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In the petition, the artists said they oppose performing in Israeli settlements located in the West Bank.

At Sunday's cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the last thing the country needs is a boycott from within Israel.

"The state of Israel is facing a deligitimization campaign from different sources across the globe, including attempts to implement economic, academic and cultural boycotts," he said. "The last thing we need is a boycott attempt from inside Israel. I do not wish to infringe upon the right of every artist to express his own opinion, but we do not need to fund boycotts and support them in any way."

The prime minister said he was glad to hear that despite the petition the theater companies intended to perform at the new center as planned, local media reports said.

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Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat Saturday said the actors' protest was a serious matter and was causing a rift in Israeli society, Haaretz reported.

"Culture is a bridge in society, and political disputes should be left outside cultural life and art," she said. "I call for the scheduled performances to be carried out as scheduled in Ariel and all over the country, as each citizen has the right to consume culture anywhere he chooses."

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