Legendary singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder has pulled out of an upcoming concert to raise money for the ‘Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.’
The singer was scheduled to perform at the Los Angeles event on December 6.
In a statement Wonder said:
“I am and have always been against war, any war, anywhere.”
Wonder’s statement comes on the back of tumultuous recent events in the Middle East.
A ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas is currently in play, after a week of violence in Gaza last month. But tensions are now running at maximum.
On Friday, November 30, Israel announced it would be moving forward with the development of more than 3000 Jewish settlements in a highly contentious area east of Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The New York Timesreports that a senior Israeli official said the government would pursue “preliminary zoning and planning preparations” for a development that would separate the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem from Jerusalem.
That decision followed a historic vote by the UN General Assembly on November 29 to upgrade the Palestinians’ status to a non-member observer state of the United Nations.
More than 130 countries voted on Thursday to upgrade Palestine, nine countries opposed the move and 41 abstained.
Kick-starting the settlement expansion program in defiance of a commitment given to Washington will undoubtedly be considered a deal-breaker to any long-term hopes of resolving the two-state question in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
To many in the UN and elsewhere, it would essentially prevent the creation of a viable, Palestinian state.
In addition, tensions are set to rise further following Israel’s seizure of more than $120m in tax revenues that it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
Next week’s gala is in support of the ‘Friends of the Israel Defense Forces’, an organisation that raises money for Israeli soldiers and their families.
Wonder disclosed that the United Nations had recommended he cancel his performance given that he is an official UN “Messenger of Peace.”
In his statement, the 62-year-old said he had made the decision with a heavy heart.
“Given the current and very delicate situation in the Middle East, and with a heart that has always cried out for world unity, I will not be performing.”
However, Wonder said he would make contributions to charities that support Israeli and Palestinian children with disabilities.