Cultural center in the West Bank settlement of Ariel
Cultural center in the West Bank settlement of Ariel Photo by David Bachar
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized on Sunday the theater figures' boycott of a new theater in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, saying that the government doesn’t need to fund a group promoting a boycott of Israel from within.

Fifty-three Israeli theater professionals, including performers, playwrights and directors, signed a petition stating they would not appear in performances in Ariel.

In the petition, the performers said they would not perform in any other West Bank settlement and called on Israeli theater managers to limit their activity to within the Green Line.

"Israel is being attacked by an international de-legitimization campaign," Netanyahu said, adding that Israel didn’t need to face the same threat from within.

Netanyahu's criticism followed comments by Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat who said that the actors' protest was causing a rift in Israeli society. She called upon the theater managements to address the problem immediately.

"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."

The Habima, Cameri, Beit Lessin and Be'er Sheva theaters issued a collective response Saturday, stating: "The management of the repertory theaters will perform anywhere there are Israeli citizens who are lovers of Israeli theater, including the new culture center in Ariel. We will respect the political opinions of our actors. However, we will bring the best of Israeli theater to Ariel."