Colau maintains the blockade of relations with Israel despite losing three votes in plenary
The mayor`s party is once again left alone in the initiative to break the twinning relationship with Tel Aviv
BARCELONA—The ordinary and extraordinary plenary session of the Barcelona City Council rejected this Friday - in up to three votes - Colau`s decision to suspend relations between Barcelona and Israel. Even so, and despite being left alone in the voting, for Ada Colau`s party (BComú) the mayoral decree continues to prevail, which advocates breaking all kinds of contact with Israel.
The first of the votes that Colau lost was the citizen initiative, presented by several organizations with 4,000 signatures, that asked to suspend relations with Israel and the twinning arrangement that Mayor Joan Clos signed in 1998 uniting the Catalan capital with Tel Aviv and Gaza. The majority made up of Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), Ciutadans (C`s) Barcelona, Partido Popular de Barcelona (PP) and Valents together with the Socialists` Party of Catalonia (PSC), Colau`s government partner, rejected the popular initiative. Esquerra republicana de Catalunya (ERC) abstained and Barcelona en Comú (BComú) was the only formation that supported the initiative.
In this plenary session, the PSC stood in opposition to its own municipal government. In the debate, the Socialists managed to put an initiative against the mayor’s “unilateral decision” to suspend the twinning with Tel Aviv to a vote.
The socialist deputy mayor, Laia Bonet, has accused the leader of her municipal government, Ada Colau, of acting electorally in the relationship with Israel and of signing a mayoral decree as a formula to get away with the move despite not having a sufficient number of votes. Bonet has remarked that Tel Aviv “is not Israel” and that the mayor of the capital is one of the main opponents of Benjamin Netanyahu. Finally, Bonet announced that, if the PSC wins the elections, the suspension of the twinning agreement will be revoked.
Bcomú voted against the PSC initiative. ERC and Valents abstained, but the rest of the groups supported the Socialists, so the Socialist initiative was approved, forming the second setback that Colau has received on this issue.
The mayor has maintained the validity of her decree and wanted to criticize those demonstrations that accuse her of being anti-Semitic. “Barcelona is a city committed to its Jewish community,” the mayor maintained. “I personally take responsibility for having broken the twinning with Tel Aviv in the same way that we broke it with Saint Petersburg. You cannot be silent in the face of apartheid,” announced the mayor. The one who has been in charge of criticizing the rest of the groups has been the Deputy Mayor for Social Rights, Laura Pérez (BComú), who has warned that the decree will remain in force as long as “the apartheid suffered by the Palestinian people does not end.”
Around 5:00 pm this Friday, the opposition faced Colau once again in an extraordinary plenary session. Junts, C`s, PP and Valents urged this plenary session to “reestablish relations with the State of Israel and the twinning of Barcelona with Tel Aviv and Gaza.” The extraordinary plenary session has been the third debate on the same topic that Colau has returned. The PSC has shown itself to be in the same tune as the opposition and although ERC and BComú have voted against the proposal, they lost by one vote.
In the extraordinary plenary session, the leader of Valents, Eva Parera, threatened the mayor with taking her decree to court, understanding that indications in that document are sufficient “to consider that a hate crime has been committed.” Despite losing three times, the suspension decree signed by the mayor a few weeks ago prevails, since it is within the competence of the mayor exclusively.
The Sephardic Congress against Colau
Giaco Ventura, president of the World Sephardic Congress, has sent a letter to Mayor Ada Colau warning that Israel “is not at war with the Palestinian people, it is at war with Hamas terrorists.” Ventura warns Colau that her country has the “right and duty to defend its citizens from the barbarity of thousands of daily missiles directed without warning at the Israeli population.” The president accuses Colau of not knowing that “international law has declared Hamas a terrorist group” and maintains that they are “partners of the jihadists” who attacked La Rambla in Barcelona.
Photo: The Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, speaks during a plenary session at Barcelona City Hall. Source: David Oller Bonilla/Europa Press.