Barcelona mayor sued for breaking ties with Israel

Ada Colau went beyond the scope of her authority in her desire to support the BDS movement, says The Lawfare Project.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A pro-Israel think tank has filed a lawsuit against Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau for suspending almost all ties with Israel, including its sister-city agreement with Tel Aviv.

The Lawfare Project made the court challenge on behalf of the Barcelona Institute for Dialogue with Israel, a local charity. Its primary assertion is that the mayor violated applicable legal procedures and infringed on the Spanish government’s power to conduct foreign policy.

“The suspension of relations with Israel represents a total misuse of the legal process to engage in a bigoted and partisan campaign, rather than a legal decision within the scope of the Mayor of Barcelona’s power,” explained the Project’s executive director, Brooke Goldstein.

Colau announced on Facebook in February that the decision to break in relations was “due to the repeated violations of human rights of the Palestinian population and non-compliance with United Nations resolutions.” Henceforth, she continued, the city would only maintain ties with “Israeli and Palestinian entities that continue to work for peace and against apartheid.” She also called on other mayors to follow her lead.

At a follow-up press conference, Colau was joined by Alys Samson Estapé, who previously served as the European coordinator of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC).

The BDS movement seeks to delegitimize the Jewish state by falsely accusing it of abhorrent practices such as apartheid and crimes against humanity.

Barcelona Institute chairman Maxo Benalal noted that besides “disturbing” his country’s foreign policy, “by adopting the tenets of a partisan and discriminatory political campaign against Israel, Ms. Colau breaches the mayor’s institutional duty of neutrality [and] brings harm to the good name of the city of Barcelona.”

“I imagine that Ms. Colau would like Barcelona to be akin to a city-state capable of boycotting Israel and conducting its own foreign policy, but sadly for her and fortunately for the people of Barcelona, this is not legally the case,” added Ignacio Palacios, the lawyer engaged by The Lawfare Project to lead the legal charge.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat had condemned the mayor’s announcement, tweeting, “The decision gives support to extremists, terrorist organizations and anti-Semitism, and impairs the interests of the residents of Barcelona.”

It “stands in complete contrast to the position of the majority of the residents of Barcelona and their representatives on the city council,” Haiat added.

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The Lawfare Project is an American non-profit think tank and litigation fund that works to protect the human and civil rights of Jewish and pro-Israel communities worldwide by challenging anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish discrimination in court.