A citizens' initiative collects signatures for Barcelona to cut ties with Apartheid

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Dani Sorolla
  • The citizens' initiative needs more than 3,700 signatures to move forward.
    The citizens' initiative needs more than 3,700 signatures to move forward. Source: CPCI.
  • The campaign for Barcelona to cut ties with Apartheid began in 2009.
    The campaign for Barcelona to cut ties with Apartheid began in 2009. Source: Twitter
  • The citizens' initiative is reinforced by the communicative action of social and political complaint 'Visit Tel-Aviv'.
    The citizens' initiative is reinforced by the communicative action of social and political complaint 'Visit Tel-Aviv'. Source: Twitter CPCI.

The campaign promoted by the Coalició Prou ​​Complicitat amb Israel and seeks public support for the municipal council to debate the breaking of the twinning agreement between Barcelona and Tel-Aviv.

Last June, the Parliament of Catalonia approved a resolution presented to the Foreign Action, Transparency and Cooperation Committee in which it publicly acknowledged that the system applied by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories "is contrary to international law" and can consider as "a crime of Apartheid". At the same time, he urged the Catalan Government to use all the tools at its disposal so that Israel implements the recommendations of international organizations and doesn't "provide aid or assistance likely to contribute to maintaining this situation".

Despite the fact that the decision generate a lot of attention and provoked angry reactions, such as that of the Israeli ambassador and some parties in the chamber, what the parliament resolved is not an outsized statement, but is in line which human rights organizations such as Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have been denouncing for years, as well as the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory, who in a report asserts that Israel commits an Apartheid crime and describes Gaza as "an open air prison".

To make this situation clear and to act accordingly, the campaign 'Barcelona with Apartheid no, with human rights yes', led by and the Coalició Prou ​​Complicitat amb Israel (CPCI), promotes a citizens' initiative so that the capital Catalan break the twinning that unites it with Tel-Aviv, the capital of Israel.

A twinning that "normalizes Apartheid"

"We understand that maintaining this cooperation and twinning agreement with Tel-Aviv all it does is normalize 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, and we don't want Barcelona to be complicit in this situation", Ayed Safadi, a member of the CPCI, explains to Xarxanet.

The citizens' initiative seeks to collect 3,730 signatures from Barcelona residents until December 27 to include in the agenda of the Municipal Council plenary a proposal to urge the City Council and the municipal government to "adopt the relevant procedures to suspend relations institutions with the state of Israel, including the twinning agreement with Tel-Aviv”, until Israel implements the recommendations of international organizations to make effective the fulfillment of human rights.

In addition, the proposal urges the municipal government to "reinforce cooperation with Palestinian and international organizations, including Israeli ones that work to end the violation of the human rights of the Palestinian population" and to denounce the crime of Apartheid that prevails in the occupied territories.

Thus, the citizens' initiative raised through the participatory platform wants to include in the municipal agenda the debate on the twinning agreement between the two cities. To sign, you only need to be registered in Barcelona and be over sixteen years old.

Years of mobilization to break an expired agreement

Twinning between Barcelona and Tel-Aviv dates back to 1998 and was signed by former mayor Joan Clos, as part of a trilateral agreement between the catalan city, the Israeli capital and the Palestinian city of Gaza. It was signed in a context different from the current one, marked by the Oslo Peace Accords, which aspired to establish a path for the resolution of the conflict.

The campaign to break the twinning agreement between Barcelona and Tel-Aviv began in 2009, following the brutal military operation that Israel perpetrated in Gaza, called 'Cast Lead' or 'The Gaza Massacre', which in just twenty-two days killed more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians. During the offensive, Israeli bombs destroyed the Parc de la Pau Barcelona, ​​built a few years earlier in the Gaza Strip with funds from the Barcelona City Council.

"With the successive international resolutions that affirm, after an exhaustive analysis, that Israel practices apartheid crimes in Palestine, we believe that Barcelona, ​​at the very least, must make this symbolic gesture of breaking this agreement with Tel-Aviv, given that maintaining it only reinforces the impunity of these policies", adds Safadi.

For the member of the CPCI, it's not admissible to maintain agreements like this, but also not to organize the Eurovision festival or football matches like the friendly that FC Barcelona planned to play in Jerusalem last season - and which ultimately didn't go to celebrate – while Israel continues its policies of persecution of the Palestinian population and occupation of its territories. "Either you plant yourself or, in some way, you are another accomplice", he says.

'Visit Tel-Aviv', a communicative action to promote the campaign

The citizens' initiative is reinforced by the communicative action of social and political complaint 'Visit Tel-Aviv'. Prepared by the Rodillo communication agency and distributed through social networks, it presents a series of videos and posters that, from the point of view of satire, represent a fictitious tourism campaign promoted by Israel.

The action aims to create awareness and make clear the consequences of silence and collusion with the policies practiced by the Jewish state. "This is a 'fake' tourism campaign from Tel-Aviv that, using irony, promotes everything that they don't tell you happens in Israel and shows the b side of the country, the one they don't want to show you." details Ayed Safadi.

The movement for Barcelona to cut ties with Apartheid has the support of more than a hundred entities and organizations in the city, which have joined the request to put an end to the friendship and cooperation agreement between the Catalan capital and Tel-Aviv and suspend relations with Israel.

Unfortunately, they say from the CPCI, it is necessary to insist and continue to denounce the continuous violations of rights suffered by the Palestinian population. "When we do these campaigns we have the feeling that many people are still not sufficiently aware of the serious violations of rights that occur in Palestine, and this is still a success of Israel's media campaigns to wash its image", concludes the CPCI member.

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