David Elhayani
David Elhayani Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Yesha Council head David Elhayani announced on Sunday that he is cancelling his scheduled talk at the annual Haaretz conference on Wednesday because it is being co-sponsored by the controversial NGOs B'Tselem and Breaking the Silence.

Elhayani's announcement came amid pressure from the Choosing Life Forum of Bereaved Families and the Wounded IDF Veterans Forum that called on Elhayani not to participate in a conference sponsored by groups that harm IDF soldiers.

B'Tselem and Breaking the Silence have faced sharp criticism in Israel due to their activities against IDF soldiers and Israel, which are largely funded by donations from European governments. Last month, B'Tselem launched an international campaign accusing Israel of being an apartheid state.

"I agreed to participate in the Haaretz conference in order to make the important voice of the communities [in Judea and Samaria] heard and to represent a sane voice on that day," said Elhayani. "At the same time, I can't help but recognize the pain of bereaved families and terror victims that see these organizations as partners in activities against IDF soldiers and that see my participation as adding to their pain."

Elhayani continued: "Therefore, I announced that I am canceling my participation and ask that my friend Oded Revivi, head of the Efrat local council who is also scheduled to participate in the conference, to listen to the voices of these dear families and cancel his participation."

Responding to the pressure, Revivi said that he will not be cancelling his participation. "I will go to every possible platform to give my opinion about our rights to the Land," said Revivi in a statement.

The Zionist watchdog group Im Tirtzu praised Elhayani's decision, calling it a "victory for common sense and for Zionism," and urged Revivi to follow suit.

"There is no justification to participate in a conference sponsored by organizations that receive millions of dollars from foreign governments in order to slander IDF soldiers and the State of Israel. We welcome Elhayani's decision and call on Efrat local council head Revivi to join him."