Spanish MP: Vote unlikely to alter Spain’s negative attitude toward Israel

Head of Spanish-Israel parliamentary group says incoming EU foreign policy czar – now acting Spanish FM – biased against Israel.

Spanish MP Juan Carlos Girauta (photo credit: Courtesy)
Spanish MP Juan Carlos Girauta
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel is not the only country that will hold general elections twice in 2019: Spain, which went to the polls in April, is set to return to the ballot box on November 10. And, as in Israel, the political picture there – as was the case after the second election held here last month – is unlikely to significantly clear up.
But one thing that can be said with a degree of certainty, said Spanish MP Juan Carlos Girauta, is that Spain’s relationship with Israel – considered among the most difficult in the EU – is unlikely to change significantly as a result of the elections.
If it does improve, however, it is likely to be due to another reason, said Girauta: Spanish politician Josep Borrell’s move from being Spain’s foreign minister to becoming the European Union’s new foreign policy czar, replacing Federica Mogherini.
“Borrell follows a line – common in the EU – that is biased [against Israel],” said Girauta, a member of the center-right Citizens Party and the head of the 25-strong Spanish-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group (out of a 350-seat parliament) “I don’t think his [Borrell’s] new position is good news for Israel. He has got this prejudice, and it is regrettable.”
As far as Spain’s attitudes toward Israel, the politician who represents Toledo in parliament said he did not think the election will change anything, but that the Spanish government may be more favorably inclined toward Israel once Borrell leaves his job as Spain’s top diplomat to take over that post at the EU.
Girauta attributed the highly critical position of the outgoing government of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to Borrell, as well as to the far-left Podemos, a party that made it possible for Sánchez to emerge from Spain’s April election as prime minister. This party, Girauta alleged, has been financially backed by Iran and Venezuela.
According to Girauta, Podemos is behind the various BDS motions that have passed through many Spanish municipalities in recent years, only to be overturned by the courts after facing legal challenges put forth by the Madrid based pro-Israel advocacy organization, ACOM.
According to Girauta, ACOM has won 52 court cases against BDS, and lost only once. Many cases do not make it to court, with the municipalities voluntarily suspending BDS action in order to fend off a court battle. For example, the city council of Villarrobledo, in south-central Spain, declared itself an official supporter of BDS in April 2018, only to backtrack four months later when faced with ACOM legal action.
The city of Sagunto, in eastern Spain, passed a motion last year saying it was an “Israeli apartheid- free space,” but quelled the motion after facing legal action.
Girauta said that Podemos, whose fingerprints can be found on all of these BDS motions, stands to lose ground in the November election, something that Israel should be pleased about.
While some pundits have suggested that the recent unrest in Catalonia will hurt the chances of Sánchez to be able to capture enough votes to form the next government, Girauta said it was difficult to tell what the impact of seven nights of sometimes violent protests in the region, including in Barcelona, will have on the election.
But, in a message that may be as true for Israeli politicians as it is for Spanish ones, Girauta said that in his country the ruling party may get punished for the country’s political instability.
November’s election will be Spain’s fourth general election in as many years, and if the Spaniards punish Sánchez, he said, it will be for making the people go to vote too often.
“This might be good for Italy, but not Spain,” he said.