Activists from the BDS movement against Israel [File].
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
ACOM, an Israel lobby group that works to combat BDS in Spain, dealt a double blow to the boycott movement this past week after garnering two legal victories in municipalities in Madrid and Barcelona.
A Madrid court ruled against the City Council of Rivas Vaciamadrid, a town of some 80,000 inhabitants in Madrid, annulling a decision to boycott Israel.
In May 2016, the council adopted a BDS resolution not to sign “any political, commercial, agricultural, educational, cultural, sporting or security agreement or contract with Israeli institutions, companies and organizations, nor with bodies, companies and organizations that are involved, collaborate or in any way capitalize on the violation of international law and human rights in the Palestinian territories or in the occupied Golan.”
According to ACOM, the municipality declared itself a “free space of Israeli apartheid.”
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ACOM has been at the forefront of the battle against the BDS movement, and submitted legal action against the decision.
In July 2016, Court No. 4 of Madrid issued an interlocutory writ of injunction ordering the city council to restrain from carrying out the boycott.
The court reasoned that the city council lacked the authority to pass any resolution that interferes with the conduction of foreign affairs by the Spanish government. The boycott was based on the sole discretion of the council members and not that of a “competent international body,” and as such the council could not deny collaboration with Israeli companies simply because they were “operating commercially in the Israeli occupied territories,” the court ruling said.
In addition, the court deemed every working section of the decision as “discriminatory and without any substance in the field of international law,” adding that United Nations Security Council resolutions do not provide any legal foundation to boycott Israeli institutions, companies or organizations.
A few days before the Madrid court’s ruling, Court No. 4 of Barcelona also sent out a notice annulling the boycott against Israel by the Town Hall of Sant Quirze del Vallès, a town of some 20,000 inhabitants near Barcelona.
In January 2016, the town hall passed a proposal in favor of a BDS campaign pledging not to sign any contract or agreement with Israeli institutions and organizations until Israel recognized the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and “complied with international law.” Any institution or business maintaining commercial relations with Israel would also be included in the boycott.
According to ACOM, which filed legal action against the proposal, the boycott declaration specifically targeted the Israeli multinational companies Elbit Systems and Eden Springs, as well as the North American Hewlett- Packard and Caterpillar, and the British G4S.
The municipality also designated itself as an “Israel apartheid-free space,” and sent out certificates confirming the boycott to the Spanish government, the European Parliament, and the Israeli Embassy and Palestinian Diplomatic Mission in Madrid.
On June 1, 2016, the Barcelona court issued a cautionary statement ordering the town hall to abstain from adopting the boycott, as it had already identified a “possible infraction of the principle of equality before the law and violations of the right to not be discriminated against for any reason, and a possible disruption of the right of resident foreigners to the same public liberties in Spain as Spanish nationals.”
The court’s final decision, one year after the boycott decision was passed, reasoned that the boycott was “discriminatory and in violation of the principle of equality before the law, that a town hall would commit to abstain from making agreements or signing contracts with Israeli businesses only because of their national origin.”
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