In rare move, Spanish town reverses BDS resolution it passed this year

Spain has highest number of municipalities voting to divest from Israel, but most pro-boycott moves annulled by courts

A view in Santa Eulalia, Spain. (CC BY-SA3.0: yearofthedragon/Wikipedia)
A view in Santa Eulalia, Spain. (CC BY-SA3.0: yearofthedragon/Wikipedia)

In a rare move, a Spanish municipality voted to nullify a resolution it had passed earlier this year endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Santa Eulalia, a town on the island of Ibiza some 450 kilometers southeast of Madrid, last week nullified in a vote the pro-BDS resolution it passed in the summer. The reversal came following legal action initiated against the municipality over the initial vote, Spanish pro-Israel organization ACOM told JTA on Friday.

More than a dozen such BDS resolutions have been reversed over the past two years in Spain, where over 50 municipalities have endorsed BDS – more than anywhere else in Europe. But in most of the cases, the reversal came in an injunction following a court ruling declaring BDS discriminatory or in a local government decree designed to avoid such a ruling, according to ACOM President Angel Mas.

“It is rare for a municipality council to cancel in a vote a resolution that it had passed only months before,” he said.

The center-right Popular Party, which opposes boycott initiatives against Israel, called the second vote amid pressure from senior politicians and because of concerns that ACOM’s legal action against the Santa Eulalia resolution would end in a nullification, Mas said. Such a reversal by vote has occurred only “once or twice” before in Spain, he said.

During debates at town hall about the resolution, Popular Party representatives argued it would be disproportionate to focus on the democratic nation of Israel at a time when hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died in a brutal civil war among rebels, Islamists and forces loyal to the country’s dictator, Bashar Assad, Mas said.

Last month, the Administrative Appeals Court No. 3 of Barcelona scrapped the motion passed in March by the suburban municipality of Sant Adrià de Besòs on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.

Promoting BDS is illegal in France, where doing so is considered a form of incitement. Britain’s government said it was considering similar legislation. Spain has no laws specifically against boycotting other nations, as France does, but this has after 2014 become a de-facto position of the Spanish judiciary following several precedent-setting rulings by some of the country’s highest tribunals.

Mas welcomed the vote in Santa Eulalia, saying it was preferable to obtaining an injunction.

“Ours is not a litigious organization,” he said of ACOM. “We are not there to start court cases, but we are forced to do just that when illegal and discriminatory activities are taken against Israel. When these actions are corrected and the situation is resolved on the political field, where this issue belongs, that this is better than having to bring it to court.”

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