BDS is anti-constitutional, discriminatory — Spanish tribunal
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BDS is anti-constitutional, discriminatory — Spanish tribunal

Citing anti-discrimination laws, special court says local boycott efforts ‘jeopardize the fundamental right to equality’

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)

Citing anti-discrimination laws, a Spanish constitutional tribunal recommended scrapping a municipality’s motion calling for a boycott against Israel.

The Ministerio Fiscal, an advisory judicial authority charged with guaranteeing equality in the judiciary, made the recommendation this month, according to a statement by ACOM, a Spanish pro-Israel lobby. The recommendation came after ACOM sued the northern municipality of Gijon for declaring itself “a space free of Israeli apartheid.”

The motion, passed in January, also said the city would not pay for the services of firms implicated in “human rights violations” in Palestinian territories. It said the city supports the BDS movement, which calls for boycotts, sanctions and divestment against Israel. Gijon, a city of 270,000 residents, is located 290 miles north of Madrid.

But the Ministerio Fiscal said in its nonbinding recommendation that the objectives of Gijon’s boycott “violate the constitution as well as the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.” The motion’s clauses, according to the tribunal, “jeopardize the fundamental right to equality without discrimination on the bases of appearance, ethnicity and religion.”

Farida Trichine (third from right) and fellow activists advocating a boycott of Israel in Mulhouse, France, Sept. 11, 2010. (photo credit: Collectif Palestine 68)
Farida Trichine (third from right) and fellow activists advocating a boycott of Israel in Mulhouse, France, Sept. 11, 2010. (photo credit: Collectif Palestine 68)

A motion similar to the one passed in Gijon was defeated last week by a majority of delegates in Tarragona, an eastern Spanish city with 130,000 residents. Tarragona is the fifth Spanish municipality where BDS motions have failed in recent weeks, while motions supporting an Israel boycott have passed in four Spanish municipalities.

Spain’s government has repeatedly expressed its opposition to BDS, which is illegal in neighboring France because it is deemed discriminatory. Britain’s ruling party is formulating similar legislation, officials said earlier this year.

Long seen as a hub of anti-Israeli lobbying in Europe, Spain has recently taken actions that angered BDS promoters, including a January offer of $107,000 in compensation for damages caused to an Israeli West Bank university due to its exclusion from a scientific competition for political reasons.

Unlike the parliaments of Britain, France and other European countries, which have pledged unconditional support for Palestinian statehood, Spain’s Congress in 2014 passed a nonbinding motion saying it would only support a Palestinian state reached by a peace agreement through talks with Israel – language that was hailed as a diplomatic victory for Israel and its supporters.

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