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Cadiz, provincial capital in the autonomous community of Andalusia in the Spanish state, has become the latest municipality to pass a motion supporting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights and declaring itself an Israeli “Apartheid Free Zone”.
With a population of 120,000, Cadiz joins more than 50 cities and towns across the Spanish state which have voted to declare themselves spaces free from Israeli apartheid. Other famous Apartheid Free municipalities include Gran Canaria, Santiago de Compostela, Xixón-Gijón, Sevilla, Córdoba and Santa Eulària in Ibiza.
Inspired in part by a similar campaign during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s, the Israeli Apartheid Free Zone campaign, led by theSolidarity Network Against the Occupation of Palestine (RESCOP), seeks to create ‘islands of political consciousness’ and to break local ties with Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, as well as with international corporations and institutions that are complicit in the maintenance of Israel’s violations of international law.
The campaign, which is supported by social movements, businesses, schools, media and public institutions from across the Spanish state, has created a map indicating spaces free from Israeli apartheid.
By declaring themselves Israeli Apartheid Free Zones, local authorities agree to boycott corporations complicit in violations of international law and the rights of Palestinians as well as break ties with the Israeli regime and its complicit institutions. They will also support local awareness raising efforts and commit to conscientious procurement policies based on the human rights of the Palestinian people.
Riya Hassan, European coordinator for the Palestinians BDS National Committee (BNC), said:
“The Israeli Apartheid Free Zones campaign across the Spanish state is inspiring similar efforts in other countries. The fact that these declarations have been voted by democratically elected municipalities reflect the growing support for the BDS movement for Palestinian rights, not just at the grassroots level but also within governments. This will eventually steer public opinion in favor of comprehensive sanctions on Israel until it end its systematic oppression of Palestinians.“
“Local councils in the Spanish state are leading the way with a powerful model of solidarity with the Palestinian people and our struggle for self-determination. We salute all councilors and activists involved in proposing and defending the motions and those involved in the implementation of the Israeli apartheid-free zones.”
“At a time of a growing democratic deficit across the European continent, it is empowering to witness how citizens are integrating solidarity with Palestinians with domestic agendas that promote social, economic and environmental justice.”
Attacks on a movement for freedom, justice and equality
Growing public support for the BDS movement for Palestinian human rights has prompted Israel and its allies to launch an unprecedented, well-funded and anti-democratic attack against everyone seeking to hold Israel accountable to international law and UN resolutions, especially through BDS advocacy.
The Israeli-sponsored attacks on the BDS movement aim to put pressure on governments, legislators and officials to curtail BDS civic actions and adopt repressive measures that infringe upon their respective citizens’ civil and political liberties at large.
In the Spanish state, attempts to silence the BDS movement, particularly on an institutional level, have been led by ACOM, a pro-Israeli Madrid-based lobby group.
ACOM has launched a number of legal appeals against local councils that have declared themselves Israeli Apartheid Free Zones.
However, ACOM’s strategy of intimidation has not been successful. Targeted cities have defended the democratic outcome of the votes, and informed courts, such as the First Administrative Court of Gijon, refused to accept ACOM’s complaints.
Similar legal charges were lodged against three local councils in the UK by the so-called Jewish Human Rights Watch, a London based Israel lobby group. Also there, the UK High Court rejected the complaints and ruled in favour of the three local councils which had passed resolutions in support of targeted boycotts of Israel’s occupation.
RESCOP commented in a statement: :
“It is intolerable that a foreign entity defending a system of apartheid, such as ACOM, should interfere in the democratic sovereignty of our municipalities, dictating what we can vote for and what not, and preventing our institutions from being committed to human rights.”
This latest decision by the city of Cadiz to join the inspiring wave of other Spanish cities and towns in declaring themselves zones free from Israeli apartheid is a sign that citizens and elected representatives are not intimidated by ACOM’s legal threats.
“By supporting the BDS movement for Palestinian rights and choosing not to engage with institutions and corporations directly involved in Israel’s egregious crimes against the Palestinian people, people of conscience and municipalities across the Spanish state are taking a concrete step to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people,” Riya Hassan concluded.