The Spanish city of Barcelona has broken off ties with Israel over its oppression of the Palestinian people.
The Catalan capital has been twinned with Tel Aviv for 25 years, but this relationship has been temporarily suspended.
Ada Colau, the left-wing mayor of Barcelona, wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to announce the city would suspend relations until Israel ended the “systematic violation of the people of Palestine’s human rights.”
“I have decided to temporarily suspend relations with the state of Israel and with the official institutions of that state – including the twinning agreements with the Tel Aviv City Council – until the Israeli authorities put an end to the system of violations of the Palestinian people and fully comply with the obligations imposed on them by international law and the various United Nations resolutions. We cannot be silent,” wrote the mayor.
Colau stressed the boycott of Israel did not apply to Israeli or Palestinian people who “work to build peace in the Middle East.”
She said the city council had taken the decision after 100 groups and more than 4,000 residents had signed a request to break relations with Israel.
Lior Haiat, a spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, condemned the city council’s move as “against the wishes of Barcelona residents.”
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“The statement by the mayor of Barcelona on the suspension of relations with the state of Israel and with the city of Tel Aviv is a regrettable decision that is totally against the opinion of the majority of the citizens of Barcelona and their representatives in the city council,” he tweeted.
On the other hand, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian coalition leading the BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality, saluted the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, “and the grassroots groups who helped end institutional links with apartheid Israel.”
It said: “Barcelona has become the first city council to suspend ties with apartheid Tel Aviv in solidarity with the Palestinian people, a move that is reminiscent of the historic and courageous city councils that pioneered cutting links with apartheid South Africa.
“With the current Israeli government, the most far-right, racist, sexist and homophobic ever, accountability is more needed than ever to end its impunity and #DismantleApartheid. We call on institutions worldwide to follow in Barcelona’s footsteps and end their own involvement in sustaining Israeli crimes against humanity.”