The claim for the break of the sisterhood has been an historical demand of the solidarity movement with Palestine and of Human Rights organizations.
Last February, Barcelona’s Mayor declared the suspension of institutional relations with Israel, including the sisterhood agreement signed with Tel Aviv in 1998 after the Catalan Palestinian solidarity movement launched a campaign called “Barcelona with the Apartheid No” and pushed the institution to stand for Human Rights.
The claim for the break of the sisterhood has been an historical demand of the solidarity movement with Palestine and of Human Rights organizations. The agreement was tripartite, and it also included the City of Gaza. Originally, the aim of it was to support a peace process that should follow the signature of the Oslo Accords and to develop a Palestinian State in order to implement the so-called “two states solution”. However, the purpose of the international Accords and of the sisterhood agreement not only has never been achieved but also has served to guarantee Israel’s international recognition on its own boundaries and, at the same time, to wash the face of the Israel occupation and the invasion on Palestinian lands.
Barcelona’s cooperation department has implemented some projects in the City of Gaza in the last decades. One of the most relevant was the construction of the “Barcelona’s Peace Park” which, ironically, was destroyed by the Israeli army in 2008. Due to Israel occupation policy and blockade against Gaza Strip, Barcelona’s town hall recognizes that no sisterhood activity has been developed during these 25 years of existence.
Considering the situation, the solidarity and human rights organizations that support the Coalition Stop Complicity with Israel, in which there are people that supported the initial idea of the sisterhood agreement, started to demand the local authorities to take a stand against the human rights violations and to send a clear message to Israel. In 2021, the solidarity movement launched the campaign “Barcelona with the Apartheid No”, which was supported by 112 organization in which were included the biggest Workers Union, the Humans Rights NGOs Catalan Federation, the Neighbourhoods Association Federation, the Youth Councils, the Palestinian Community and Jewish anti-Zionist organizations, among others.
Last autumn the campaign gathered more than 4,000 signatures, mainly handwritten, in order to include in the Barcelona’s City Council a vote to break the agreement with Israel. Additionally, in the meanwhile the Ombudsman of the City released a report stating that the Israel occupation of Palestine is constructed under an Apartheid Regime, as it is also claimed by Human Rights International NGOs such as International Amnesty, Humans Right Watch or the Israeli B’tselem. In the very same report, he also recommended breaking the agreement and stating that it should be done in the same terms that it was signed, which means that the decision must come directly from the Mayor.
Thanks to the popular support and the unstoppable action of the promoters during these last five months the Mayor of Barcelona decided the suspension not only of the agreement but also of the institutional relations until the Humans Rights of Palestinian people are respected. As Palestinian solidarity movement we will defend the decision, and we call other cities with sisterhood agreements or institutional relations to act the same way. Together we will denounce and put an end to Israel's illegal occupation and to the Apartheid regime.