Breaking silence, Israel calls for ‘peaceful’ resolution to Catalonia crisis

Foreign Ministry appears to side with Spain, saying the two countries ‘share longstanding, strong and friendly relations’

The flags of Israel and Spain seen at the welcoming ceremony for then-president Shimon Peres in Madrid, Spain on February 21, 2011. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)
The flags of Israel and Spain seen at the welcoming ceremony for then-president Shimon Peres in Madrid, Spain on February 21, 2011. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)

Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday called for the ongoing crisis in Spain to be resolved “quickly and peacefully,” in the first comments from Jerusalem on Catalonia’s bid for independence.

The Foreign Ministry appeared to side with Spain, saying in a statement the two countries “share longstanding, strong and friendly relations, rooted in our common historical heritage and shared democratic values.”

“Israel hopes that the internal crisis in Spain will be resolved quickly and peacefully and through broad national consensus,” it said.

Spain on Friday requested that Israel align itself with many other Western nations in rejecting a vote declaring Catalonian independence, according to a report on the NRG news site. The vote was passed earlier that day by the majority of delegates in the regional government of Catalonia, a semi-autonomous area in the kingdom’s northeast.

But senior Israeli diplomats had decided in internal talks to neither oppose nor support the declared independence of Catalonia, which Spain says is illegal and anti-constitutional, the report said.

Protesters wave Spanish and Catalan Senyera flag while holding a sign reading “38 percent is not Catalonia” in reference to a referendum voter turnout during a pro-unity demonstration in Barcelona on October 29, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE)

Madrid’s efforts to keep the country intact have the continued support of the US government, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. The United States “supports the Spanish government’s constitutional measures to keep Spain strong and united,” she said in a statement over the weekend.

According to the report, Israel’s neutrality had been a reaction to hostility in international forums by Spain, which is a major funder of anti-Israel organizations and often has criticized Israel’s actions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more harshly and vocally than other countries in the European Union.

Additionally, support for Israel is seen as more prevalent in Catalonia than in many other regions of Spain, a federal kingdom of 17 semi-autonomous regions, according to the report.

But ACOM, a pro-Israel organization based in Madrid, in a statement Monday disputed the idea that an independent Catalonia would be a friend to Israel. It recalled that Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, was one of about 50 municipalities throughout Spain that have adopted the boycott campaign against Israel as official policy. ACOM also recalled various anti-Semitic expressions by Catalan politicians.

ACOM also recalled that, despite disputes, Israel and Spain are friendly nations.

In recent years, the Spanish judiciary has cracked down on state bodies adopting a boycott policy against Israel, scrapping those motions as anti-constitutional and discriminatory. Spain has the largest number of such municipalities in Europe.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain, or FCJE, on Friday stated that it was opposed to the Catalan secessionist efforts.

JTA contributed to this report.

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