The decision arrives after a long campaign of solidarity with the Palestinian people and public support for an initiative to revoke an agreement that dates back to 1998.
It was a historic demand of the movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people, which had been working hard for years to achieve this goal, which has finally been achieved. The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, announced that the Catalan capital is suspending relations with the State of Israel, a decision that includes the breaking of twinning with Tel-Aviv, the Israeli capital. "We can't do nothing in the face of the violation of international law", expressed Colau to justify the measure.
The mayor has communicated the decision in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu in which she assures that "the number and severity of human rights violations documented by international organizations in the occupied Palestinian territories have increased and entered in a new era of impunity that forces us to take action".
At the same time, he has admitted that it has been a "difficult decision", which he hopes will be "temporary" because this would mean that Israel has applied the recommendations of international organizations to enforce compliance with human rights.
The Coalition Prou Complicitat amb Israel (CPCI) is, without a doubt, one of the great architects of this milestone in the solidarity movement with the Palestinian people, which has been fighting for many years for Barcelona to cut ties with Israel. Ayed Safadi, a member of the CPCI, tells Xarxanet that they are very satisfied with the decision: "We value it very positively, we are very happy because it was what we asked for and it has been achieved".
Together with LaFede and with the support of more than a hundred entities, the coalition promoted the campaign 'Barcelona with Apartheid no, with human rights yes', in which it urged the city to break a relationship with Israel that "it normalizes the policies that Israel carries out in the occupied Palestinian territories, assumed internationally and for some months now by the Catalan parliament as a crime of Apartheid", agrees Safadi.
The mayor's move has been celebrated by the promoters of the campaign and is a success for the many organizations that have pushed for Barcelona to cancel relations with Israel. A path in which the support of the public has also been essential, translated into the more than 4,100 signatures that the citizens' initiative gathered - far exceeding those required to push the initiative forward - so that the municipal plenary debated the break of the twinning agreement between Barcelona and Tel-Aviv.
In fact, it was planned in the municipal agenda that the vote on twinning, promoted by the CPCI through the citizens' initiative, would be held in a couple of weeks. However, the mayoress has gone for the right and made the decision through a mayoral decree.
In any case, the measure has been effective and this is the most important thing for its promoters, who, despite this victory, cannot forget that the Palestinian people continue to suffer daily from apartheid policies and rights violations fundamental by Israel. "We celebrate this victory and at the same time we feel sadness for the increasingly serious and dramatic situation experienced by the Palestinian people: the radical and repressive drift of the State of Israel promoted by the new government is the convincing proof", they point out from of the CPCI.
At the same time, from the movement they trust that the decision of the municipal government of Barcelona opens the door for other administrations and institutions to follow the same path and break relations with the State of Israel to denounce its policies of apartheid, colonialism and occupation against Palestine.
An agreement that no longer responded to the context or the objectives for which it was signed
The twinning agreement between Barcelona and Tel-Aviv - which also includes the Palestinian city of Gaza - dates back to 1998 and was signed by the then mayor of the Catalan capital, Joan Clos. It was signed in a context completely different from the current one, marked by the Oslo Peace Accords, which aspired to establish a path for the resolution of the conflict.
This is what Colau recalled in the letter addressed to Netanyahu that certifies the end of the twinning, in which he explains that the agreement "does not respond to the context or the objectives with which it was signed twenty-five years ago". The mayor argues for the break as a result of "the violence suffered by the Palestinian people in a process of persecution and dispossession that has lasted for more than seventy years", a situation which, she adds, "is contrary to international law".
Likewise, the mayor cites international voices such as Michael Lynk's, special rapporteur of the United Nations, on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory; the former Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon; the Nobel Peace Prizes Desmond Tutu, Rigoberta Menchú, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Betty Williams; as well as the denunciations of organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International or the Israeli association B'Tselem; who have repeatedly denounced the practices of the State of Israel against the Palestinian people.
In addition, remember that Barcelona recently suspended relations with Saint Petersburg in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukrainian territories. "History has taught us that cities must take sides and play an active role in the construction of peace and the defense of human rights," says Colau in the letter addressed to Netanyahu. Precisely for this reason, she believes that "it would be a serious mistake to apply a policy of unequal treatment and turn a blind eye to a violation widely recognized and documented by international bodies for decades".
From the movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people, they are congratulating the Barcelona City Council's move at the helm and particularly highlight Colau's gesture of communicating the decision by letter to Netanyahu. "We really value the letter that the mayor sent to the Prime Minister of Israel because it made it very clear the political will behind the initiative," says Ayed Safadi.
The CPCI also wants to emphasize the support they have received throughout this process: "that there are more than 100 entities accompanying this process and significant public support for the demand has generated a breeding ground that has made it possible to pull forward," Safadi points out. Also, they hope that it is not an isolated case, but an example for many other institutions around the world to join "initiatives to isolate apartheid and stop crimes against humanity against the Palestinian population".