Spanish Embassy Admits Restricting Israeli Shipping to Tourists Only

The Spanish Embassy here sought this weekend to clarify the anti-Israel boycott restrictions that have been imposed on Israeli ships seeking to land at Spanish ports, but facts were received in Washington that Israeli ships already have met with restrictions in Spanish harbors. Reports received last week indicated that the major Spanish ports of Las Palmas and Barcelona were “out of bounds” for Israel shipping, which would not be given harbor facilities there after April 30.

The Spanish Embassy statement here said that Spain had not changed its policy but that Israeli ships were trying to land in Spain without having proper consular representation. The statement failed to explain that Spain has refused to establish diplomatic and consular exchanges with Israel. Citing what it called “reports originating in Jerusalem,” the Embassy cited a Madrid statement to the effect that “Israeli ships for some time have been calling at the ports of Malaga and Palma de Mallorca, without previously requesting permission from Spanish authorities and without meeting consular and customs requirements which are normal for vessels of all nations and common practice for all world shippers.”

The statement said that “as long as Israeli vessels limited calls to only one or two Spanish ports, and these were not on a regular schedule, the Spanish authorities took no steps against this situation. But, with the recent increase of calls by Israeli flag ships and their inclusion of other ports in Eastern and Southern Spain. Spanish authorities were requesting that such vessels, having no consular representation in Spanish territory, restrict their stops to the ports of Malaga and Palma de Mallorca, where Israeli ships with tourists are accustomed to call.”

It added that “the aforementioned requirement has always been made with sufficient advance notice, so that Israeli ships on route to a Spanish port could arrange such stops without difficulty or inconvenience.” Madrid sought to emphasize that the move was “administrative,” and was not in “response to pressure by any foreign nations.”

Reports were received in Washington today that, last week, the Spanish port of Cadiz refused for three days to unload the Israeli ship “Yehuda,” on the basis of “new instructions” to deny rights to Israeli vessels. At the port of Las Palmas, another Israeli ship was refused fuel.

Shipping sources termed the Spanish move “an arbitrary, sudden imposition of a ban that will prevent Israeli ships access to Spanish ports.”

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