Saturday, October 31, 2020

Barcelona largest city to endorse military embargo against Israel

By Naomi Kundera - June 07, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [BDS]

Last week the city of Barcelona joined other European cities in endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the name of Palestinian human rights.

After the wake of murderous attacks against protesters in Gaza over the past several months, the City Councils of Barcelona, Bologna, Pisa, and Florence have all demanded their respective state governments to implement their demands.
The City Council of Barcelona called for a comprehensive arms embargo against Israel, along with the immediate release of the over 400 child prisoners in Israel.
The city called for these actions in compliance with the European Union Code of Conduct on arms exports and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, respectively.
The Council’s declaration also evoked the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in its demand of the EU and the UN in ensuring Israel’s compliance and accountability via its support of an international investigation of the latest killings in Gaza.
Not only condemning the attacks on Gaza, Barcelona’s declaration condemned the recent move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and called on Israel and Egypt to allow the freedom of movement for Palestinians from Gaza.
The declaration received overwhelming support from the civil society and was passed by the majority of political parties in Barcelona.
Spain has a strong history of supporting BDS with almost 50 municipalities around the country passing resolutions that endorsed the movement over the years.
The state even froze military exports to Israel in response to the awakened attacks on Gaza in 2014.
However, BDS in Spain has been an uphill battle lately due to pro-Israeli activist groups, like ACOM, that have obtained dozens of legal victories pegging BDS legislation in the country as discriminatory.
New “security challenges” throughout Europe have massively increased the demand for security and arms deals, hurting the BDS movement as well.
With the refugee migrant crisis, sporadic terrorist attacks, resurgences of nationalist sentiment, and the feeling of abandonment from NATO by the US and UK, European countries are turning to the technologically advanced Israel to fulfil their needs.
This has resulted in the increase of military deals between the EU and Israel from $724 million in 2014 to $1.8 billion in 2016.
In the case of Spain and Israel security relations, Israeli arms and technology exports to Spain far outweigh its imports.
A 2014 report states, “during the period 2003-2012, 15.67 million euros were exported, compared to 115,18 million in imports.”
As with Israeli military trade relations with most NATO countries, the arms deals between Spain and Israel, “stand out for their secrecy and lack of transparency, and are characterized by access to privileged information and conditions.”
Despite these setbacks in the BDS movement over the years, last week’s endorsement by Barcelona and other European city councils are a silver lining.
Playing fire with fire on the legal front, Barcelona’s declaration was strategic in their public declaration by evoking international law and the EU Code of Conduct.
The EU Code of Conduct, adopted in 1998, is a comprehensive outline that determines the criteria of EU arms exports.
A report on Spain and Israel’s defense relations highlights the fact that, “exports of military equipment to Israel flagrantly violate four of the criteria of the Code of Conduct (criteria 2, 3, 4 and 6) which are binding in the Spanish legislation.”
Barcelona being the largest European city to fight for Palestinian human rights by supporting the BDS movement, in spite of continuous hurdles, will hopefully set a precedent for other major cities to follow its example.

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