[Amsterdam next ?] Barcelona moves to cancel sister city agreement with Tel Aviv

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  January 20, 2023

The decision to end the relationship with the Israeli city comes amid a growing campaign by pro-Palestinian activists.

The Spanish city of Barcelona will decide whether to end its twin city relationship with Tel Aviv next month over “crimes that Israel commits against the Palestinian people”, according to Israeli media.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in front of Barcelona City Hall earlier this week, urging politicians to cut ties with the Israeli city.

The protest comes amid a growing campaign by activists, resulting in an official petition run via Barcelona City Hall that gathered more than 4,000 signatures urging the municipality to cut ties with Israel and its twin city of Tel Aviv.

The petition urged authorities to “denounce the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people and, accordingly, to adopt the relevant procedures to suspend institutional relations with the State of Israel, including the Barcelona – Gaza – Tel Aviv friendship and cooperation agreement”.

The campaign also called for a “motion to encourage Barcelona City Council and the Municipal Government to strengthen cooperation with Palestinian and international organizations, including Israeli ones, that work to put an end to the violation of the human rights of the Palestinian population”.

‘Anti-Israel bias’

Pro-Israeli groups have urged authorities in Barcelona to reject the motion.

The European Jewish Congress (EJC) called the slogan of the pro-Palestinian activists “Barcelona with the apartheid NO” alarming, adding that it was driven by a “deep-seated anti-Israel bias”.

Barcelona, Tel Aviv and Gaza City signed a friendship and cooperation agreement in 1998. Pro-Palestinian activists have called for Barcelona’s relationship with Gaza City to continue.

The proposal was initiated by the Spanish city’s leftist mayor, Ada Colau, who is working alongside other pro-Palestinian groups to end the long-standing agreement.

B’nai B’rith International, another pro-Israeli organization, said, “If successful, this would be a decision that has no precedent in Europe and that is no doubt motivated by the most extreme anti-Israel bias. We are outraged that the City Council would make such a blatantly biased proposal.”

In 2015, Amsterdam dropped proposals to become a sister city with Tel Aviv over concerns about the human rights situation in Israel.