English singer Elvis Costello has cancelled two performances in Israel because of political motives, notably his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Costello was scheduled to perform on June 30 and July 1 in the amphitheatre in Caesarea.
Tickets for his first show were sold out, and many have been sold for the second one.
Costello published a letter on his official website, in which he apologized to his fans and explained the reasons behind the cancellation. The Israeli production company organizing the event has yet to comment.
Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat criticized Costello for calling off his concerts, saying that "an artist boycotting his fans in Israel is unworthy of performing here."
Costello is not the first artist to call off his visit to Israel for political reasons. Only two weeks ago, Gil Scott-Heron cancelled his scheduled performance due to political pressures, which was probably the reason Carlos Santana aborted his trip as well.
On his website, Costello wrote: "It is after considerable contemplation that I have lately arrived at the decision that I must withdraw from the two performances scheduled in Israel on the 30th of June and the 1st of July.
"One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament. Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.
"I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security.
"Some will regard all of this an unknowable without personal experience but if these subjects are actually too grave and complex to be addressed in a concert, then it is also quite impossible to simply look the other way.
"I offer my sincere apologies for any disappointment to the advance ticket holders as well as to the organizers.
"I hope it is possible to understand that I am not taking this decision lightly or so I may stand beneath any banner, nor is it one in which I imagine myself to possess any unique or eternal truth.
"I cannot imagine receiving another invitation to perform in Israel, which is a matter of regret but I can imagine a better time when I would not be writing this," He concluded.
Costello's wife, Jazz singer Diana Krall is also scheduled to perform in Israel in the near future. It is still unclear whether Costello's decision will also have an effect on her visit to the Jewish state.
Roni Sofer contributed to this report