Spanish municipality to cancel resolution boycotting Israel
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Spanish municipality to cancel resolution boycotting Israel

Following legal action by pro-Israel lobby, Velez Malaga backing down on motion calling Israel an apartheid state

Protesters urging a boycott against Israel in Melbourne, file photo (CC-BY SA Takver/Wikimedia Commons)
Protesters urging a boycott against Israel in Melbourne, file photo (CC-BY SA Takver/Wikimedia Commons)

The Spanish municipality of Velez Malaga said it would rescind a resolution it recently passed in support of boycotting Israel – which it had called an apartheid state.

The decision to cancel the resolution came in the wake of legal action against the municipality.

A spokesperson for the local government of the Spanish holiday destination told ACOM, a pro-Israel lobby group that in recent years has secured more than 20 rulings against boycott initiatives, that Velez Malaga will scrap in the near future the motion its city council passed in May in favor of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, or BDS. Home to over 70,000 people, Velez Malaga is part of the Costa del Sol area, which attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists from across Europe and beyond.

The announcement came after a court in Malaga on Tuesday issued an injunction that rendered the resolution ineffective on grounds that is violates constitutional principles guaranteeing equality and proscribing incitement to discrimination.

Supporters hold signs reading 'Together with Israel' at a rally called by the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain (FCJE) and the Jewish Community of Madrid, in front of the Israeli embassy in Madrid on October 18, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/PEDRO ARMESTRE)
Supporters hold signs reading ‘Together with Israel’ at a rally called by the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain (FCJE) and the Jewish Community of Madrid, in front of the Israeli embassy in Madrid on October 18, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/PEDRO ARMESTRE)

ACOM has been involved in obtaining six similar rulings in 2016 against local councils that passed resolutions in favor of BDS, including precedent-setting ones by some of Spain’s highest tribunals.

Some 50 Spanish municipalities had passed resolutions in recent years endorsing BDS — more than in any other European country. But, echoing belatedly the judicial policy of courts in neighboring France, the Spanish judiciary has cracked down on BDS in recent years, as part of an effort to make judges more independent and amid growing resentment toward BDS promoters whose actions are perceived as counterproductive to efforts aimed at rehabilitating Spain’s ailing economy.

Last month, centrist politicians from the northern city of Santiago de Compostela protested the passage of a pro-BDS resolution by the local council, which is under the control of a far-left party. They accused the ruling party of sabotaging the tourist industry after Israel’s national airline El Al reportedly ended talks on opening a direct connection to the city.

In a petition published in April and titled “Stop criminalizing BDS,” supporters of the boycott asserted that “activists of non-violent struggle [against Israel] are under threat.” They urged the European Commission to enforce in Spain “human rights guidelines guaranteeing freedom of speech and the right to boycott.”

In addition to protesting what they consider Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, the authors of the now suspended BDS motion that had been adopted in Velez Malaga also bemoaned what they labeled Israel’s “1948 annexation of 78 percent of the territory of historical Palestine.”

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