In first, a Spanish state calls for ‘suspending’ relations with Israel


(JTA) — Navarre became the first state in Spain to call on the central government to break relations with Israel.

The motion voted on last month in Navarre, in northern Spain, received the support of all the parties represented in parliament except the center-right Popular Party, the ACOM pro-Israel advocacy wrote in a statement Friday.

The motion passed on May 21 calls on Spain to “suspend its ties with Israel “until that country ceases its policy of criminal repression of the Palestinian population.” Another clause in the draft motion called on the central government to “support any initiative promoted by the international BDS campaign.” However, this clause did not receive the support of a majority of lawmakers and was not included in the final draft. Notwithstanding, following the vote the Spanish branch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel included Navarre in its list of organizations supporting the boycott.

Navarre is one of 17 autonomous communities — states with their own parliaments — that together make up quasi-federal Spain. Catalonia’s parliament last year declared independence from Spain, though Madrid declined to recognize the declaration. Navarre has a substantial Basque population and a strong separatist movement.

The motion went on to condemn Israel for “murdering” dozens of Palestinians in May — a reference to those killed by Israeli forces during Hamas-organized riots along the Gaza border that featured hundreds of firebombs and attempts to breach the security fence into Israel. Of 61 people killed in the riots on May 14, 50 were Hamas members, according to one senior member of that organization.

Sweden, Ireland and several other European Union countries criticized Israel’s use of deadly force but reaffirmed their support for its right to defend itself. The United States said the violence was solely Hamas’ fault.

The Navarre motion does not mention Hamas, violence along the border nor Israel’s right to defend itself. ACOM condemned it as discriminatory.

In recent years, ACOM actions have led to the scrapping, annulment or suspension of 24 motions to boycott Israel by Spanish municipalities. Courts throughout the kingdom have declared such motions discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Earlier this month, the City Council of Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city, passed a motion declaring a boycott of Israel and Valencia an “Israeli apartheid-free zone.” Several dozen municipalities have endorsed BDS in Spain but none of its states had until the vote in Navarre.

Recommended from JTA