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July 3, 2018 11:52 am

Spanish High Court Strikes Down City Council’s ‘Unconstitutional’ Boycott of Israel

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The municipality of Castrillón. Photo: Angarpas.

A Spanish high court confirmed last week that a city council’s boycott of Israel was unconstitutional.

The High Court of Justice in Asturias declared that a motion passed by the City Council of Castrillón last August — which called for boycotting Israeli companies and those who do business with Israel — violated constitutional civil rights, as well as principles of non-discrimination and equality before the law.

The motion was initially suspended by a judge last January, but appealed by the Castrillón government, which is led by the communist Izquierda Unida (United Left) party.

The Lawfare Project nonprofit, which supported the suit, said its work in Spanish courts since March has resulted in the annulment or suspension of anti-Israel boycotts in the cities of Telde, Montcada, La Roda, Barbate, Artes, and Viloria. The group announced that 28 such rulings were issued in proceedings it sponsored since June 2017.

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Ignacio Wenley Palacios, the Lawfare Project’s Spanish counsel, said these court victories have deterred the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel — which the High Court of Justice in Asturias first ruled was discriminatory in 2016 — from using its proper name in municipal resolutions.

Instead, BDS activists pass motions “in city, provincial, and regional councils that use loaded, discriminatory language,” Palacios explained. “Or they run new sub-campaigns such as the ‘Space Free of Israeli Apartheid,’ or petitions for an arms embargo of Israel.”

He expressed confidence that such motions would similarly be rejected by the courts in due course.

“However much the new, and increasingly mainstream, left maligns Israel, Spain has individuals from across the political spectrum who are proud of their Jewish heritage, find this discrimination repellent and celebrate the triumph in Court of basic democratic values,” Palacios added.

A number of city councils have passed resolutions targeting Israel in recent years, a reflection of a concentrated push by BDS activists affiliated with left-wing parties, notably Podemos.

The young party, the third-largest party in parliament, has been aggressively advocating for BDS since it first gained access to municipal power after the 2015 elections, the head of the Spanish pro-Israel group ACOM told The Algemeiner last month.

Podemos has also supported what the BDS campaign called a “wave” of anti-Israel municipal resolutions that passed following Hamas-led riots in the Gaza Strip in May.

Formed in 2014 by Pablo Iglesias, a former adviser to late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, the party has been accused of receiving funds from Iran and Venezuela, though Spain’s Supreme Court has rejected opening a criminal investigation into the allegations. Iglesias — who serves as a host of the show “Fort Apache” on HispanTV, a Spanish-language news channel owned and operated by Iran — has denied any wrongdoing.

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