Madrid Offers to ‘Twin’ with Tel Aviv after Barcelona Suspends Ties

The Mayor of Barcelona announced that they were suspending a twinning deal with the Mediterranean city of Tel Aviv and institutional relations with the State of Israel.

According to her, this was in light of the human rights violations of Palestinians that were committed by Israel.

A day after the announcement, Madrid offered to replace Barcelona and take up the twinning deal instead.

Barcelona’s decision

Ada Colau, the left-wing Barcelona Mayor wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and explained that the move was mostly symbolic.

She said that a petition had come to her from pro-Palestinian groups in Barcelona and they had asked her to take action.

Therefore, she had decided to suspend institutional relations and the twinning partnership, until the Israeli authorities put an end to the systematic violations of Palestinians’ rights.

The conservative mayor of Madrid, Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida accused the Barcelona mayor of antisemitism.

He added that he had reached out to Ron Huldai, the Mayor of Tel Aviv, to share their commitment to freedom and democracy.

Martinez-Almeida stated in a letter that Madrid wanted the citizens of Israel to know that they are aware of who they should develop and strengthen ties with.

He also said that Madrid would stand with a rights-abiding and law-abiding country like Israel.

The criticism

The Madrid Mayor criticized the decision of his Barcelona counterpart and said that it came off as anti-Semitic.

He stated that he does not support such a decision because the left always puts the blame on Israel. He also added that twinning with Tel Aviv would be an honor.

Both he and the mayor of Barcelona are competing for front position on investment and international issues in this year when elections are scheduled.

The right-wing politicians of Spain have been making commercial and diplomatic outreach to the State of Israel on a bigger scale.

The background

Colau explained in a press conference that more than 100 organizations and over 4,000 citizens had requested her to defend the rights of Palestinians.

In her latter to the Israeli premier, she said that the petition had asked her to condemn the crimes against the Palestinian people, which also involved suspending Barcelona and Tel Aviv’s twinning agreement.

She also elaborated that Barcelona had put an end to a similar agreement with Saint Petersburg after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

End Complicity with Israel is the lobby group that had put forward the demand of ending the twinning agreement.

The measure will have to be voted on in a city council session, which will take place on February 24th. However, there is a possibility that it may not be approved.

This is due to the fact that it is not supported by the mainstream right and left-wing parties. Barcelona has been twinning with Tel Aviv since 1998 in a signing of a collaboration and friendship agreement.

The Foreign Ministry of Israel responded that the Barcelona mayor’s announcement lacks the support of most of the residents of the Spanish city.

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