The severe sentences meted out as a result of legal actions undertaken by ACOM expose the grave violations of Fundamental Rights specific to the boycott campaigns in a number of municipalities. Any public entity that agrees to join the initiatives of the BDS groups in Spain is, therefore, risking serious consequences.
City Council of Xeraco
On May 30, 2016, the City Council of Xeraco —a Mediterranean small town of 5,907 inhabitants, South of Valencia— passed a decision committing itself to refrain from signing any political, institutional, commercial, agricultural, educational, cultural, sporting or security agreement, contract or covenant with Israeli public bodies, companies, and organizations. The motion was presented by the governing party, Compromis, and endorsed with the vote in favor of the PSOE and Canviar Xeraco (local Podemos – IU franchise), while the Popular Party abstained.
he Israeli victims of this boycott could avoid it if they respected the “inalienable rights of the Palestinian people”, rights that involved the disappearance of the Jewish state.
As in other cities in Spain, the City Council was granted the BDS-approved seal that distinguishes the town as a ‘Free Space of Israeli Apartheid’, under the condition of the seal to be displayed in the city’s website and in its publications. In turn, the City Council agreed to broadcast the boycott campaign among residents and local businesses, going as far as to inform the neighbors and local businesses that to sell, buy, invest or sign contracts with Israeli companies, including the agri-food, banking, exports and tourism sectors, might implicate the neighbors in litigation with the Palestinian population, involved them in Human Rights violations, or even end in indictments for war crimes.
Finally, the City Council agreed to engage and promote an active policy of cooperation with the BDS movement in order to ensure the proper implementation of the boycott decision.
Four months later, on January 26, 2017, the same court issued a resolution annulling the boycott. The Magistrate stressed that the boycott equals to the rejection of tenders based on their opinions. Moreover, the decision holds asking for statements on a controversial issue of foreign affairs is inappropriate for a city council, bound to serve impartially the general interest of its neighbors, an area where is preeminent the absence of coercion into the beliefs of others.
City Council of Olesa de Montserrat.
On January 27 of this year, the 10th Court of Barcelona ruled that the boycott decision approved on May 30, 2016 by the City of Olesa de Montserrat, a city north of Barcelona, was illegal. It excluded from public procurement all Israeli companies and non-Israeli companies engaged in trade with Israel. Olesa is governed by Bloc Olesà. The motion was presented in plenary by said party, with the support of Movem Olesà, the vote against of Partido Popular and CiU, and the abstention of PSC and ERC.
Going further, the Court asserts that the city council’s decision imposed unconstitutional restrictions on the freedom to hold personal beliefs and opinions. The ruling strongly criticizes the coercive measures and the communication campaign of the city council that sought to establish an official political position on the Arab-Israeli conflict. This official policy in a matter wholly unrelated to the powers of City Council, establishes a ‘historical or political truth’ on the Israeli-Arab conflict, expecting it to be shared or not challenged by any tender, company, public body or organization that may enter into any agreement with the City Council. According to the Court, this policy set limits to fundamental freedoms such as freedom of expression or artistic and academic freedom that conditioned the activity of areas of municipal life to the position on the Middle East that the council holds.
In the same sentence, the judge rejects the report commissioned in February 2016 by BDS movement coordinator “Rescop”, which questioned the ability of a court to challenge this type of municipal agreements.
These two resolutions add to 11 municipalities that have already had to reverse decisions of anti-Semitic boycott and other 4 whose application has been paralyzed by courts as a result of legal initiatives undertaken by ACOM.
During the last few months, ACOM has begun working closely with The Lawfare Project to expand the spectrum of judicial initiatives against discriminatory BDS campaigns launched by some Spanish municipalities. This cooperation benefits from the successes achieved so far by ACOM in the fight against this anti-Semitic movement and in the international leadership of The Lawfare Project in this field.