Robbie Williams’ two fingers up to the haters as he arrives for Tel Aviv show

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Robbie Williams’ two fingers up to the haters as he arrives for Tel Aviv show

"I'm incredibly excited to be here and experience what Israel really is": Pop icon touches down ahead of Thursday night performance for thousands at Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Park

Robbie Williams has arrived in Israel ahead of his much-anticipated concert at Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Park.

Addressing a press conference at the Sheraton Hotel, the former Take That star said: “I was incredibly excited to arrive here and, much like my last visit, I am excited to experience what Israel actually is and who the people actually are.”

A fan of Israeli indie artist Noga Erez, Williams was due to be the headline act on the second night of the event, with British singer Sam Smith performing tonight.

But Smith cancelled their appearance due to reported technical and logistical problems and was put under intense pressure by the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement to halt the performance. Minus Smith, the festival is now one-night only, taking place on Thursday.

Ahead of Williams’ last performance in Israel in 2015, Pink Floyd frontman and BDS supporter Roger Waters urged him to cancel, saying that by performing Williams was giving his “tacit support to the deaths of Palestinian children”.

In an open letter to US current affairs magazine Salon, Waters continued: “To be clear, Robbie, whether intended or not, your decision to play in Tel Aviv gives succor to Netanyahu and his regime, and endorses their exceptionalist and deadly racist policies”.

Nearly a decade later, Williams wants to avoid his performance being used for political purposes: “I’m afraid to be part of a narrative, afraid to be used as part of a narrative for nefarious purposes.

“It annoys me, because you can’t say anything, because there are two sides with two narratives, and my answer is: ‘I’m here, I’m here to perform for the people.’”

Williams is a passionate supporter of Israel. In a recent interview on the podcast Andrew Gold: On The Edge, he said: “My children are Jewish,” referring to his four children with Turkish-Jewish wife Ayda Field.

He added: “I am a Catholic who has distanced himself from religion and Ayda is a Jew who has distanced herself from religion – but it is important that we have a tribe.

“It’s important to have a sense of belonging. I feel more Jewish than I feel Catholic.”

Social media shared a video excerpt of Williams’ impromptu duet with a street performer in Tel Aviv after he touched down at Ben Gurion.

He will appear on stage tomorrow evening following performances by English songwriter Calum Scott, Israeli rapper Static and Dutch DJ Martin Garrix.

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