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Fox Business
Fox Business
21 Oct 2023

The CEO of a well-known European tech conference has resigned after making anti-Israel statements, his company said.

Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave, who was also a co-founder of the conference, stepped down from his role Saturday. A Web Summit spokesperson announced the news via an email to the Associated Press.

In his apology, Cosgrave acknowledged that his statements about the Israel-Hamas war — which started when Hamas terrorists began attacking Israel on Oct. 7 — "have become a distraction from the event, and our team, our sponsors, our startups and the people who attend."

"I sincerely apologise again for any hurt I have caused," the Irish entrepreneur wrote.

Close-up of Cosgrove speaking

Paddy Cosgrave, co-founder and CEO of Web Summit. (Horacio Villalobos Corbis/Getty Images/File / Getty Images)

The controversy stemmed from comments the tech CEO made on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Oct. 13. He wrote that he was "shocked" at the leaders and governments supporting Israel, which imposed a blockade of the Gaza Strip in response to the Hamas attacks.

"[I am] shocked at the rhetoric and actions of so many Western leaders & governments, with the exception in particular of Ireland’s government, who for once are doing the right thing," Cosgrave wrote.

"War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are," he added.

Cosgrove walking on stage

Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave (Horacio Villalobos Corbis/Getty Images/File / Getty Images)

On Oct. 15, Cosgrave clarified that "what Hamas did is outrageous and disgusting" but added that "Israel has a right to defend itself, but it does not, as I have already stated, have a right to break international law."

Two days later, the tech CEO wrote that "[w]hat is needed at this time is compassion, and I did not convey that…my aim is and always has been to strive for peace."

"I also believe that, in defending itself, Israel should adhere to international law and the Geneva Conventions — i.e. not commit war crimes," he added. "This belief applies equally to any state in any war. No country should breach these laws, even if atrocities were committed against it."

Web Summit sign on stage

Paddy Cosgrave delivers remarks during the 2022 Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. (Horacio Villalobos Corbis/Getty Images/File / Getty Images)

Fox Business reached out to Web Summit for a statement, but has not heard back.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.