Former Barcelona Mayor Facing Court Investigation over Decision to Sever Israel Ties

Former Barcelona Mayor Facing Court Investigation over Decision to Sever Israel Ties
Maimonides Synagogue after it was vandalized

Complaints said former mayor accused Israel of “systematic violation of people of Palestine’s human rights,” and apartheid.

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

The former mayor of Barcelona is now the subject of a court investigation over her decision last February to unilaterally sever the Spanish city’s ties with Israel, citing the Jewish state’s alleged “apartheid” policies towards the Palestinians as the reason.

A legal complaint filed against Ada Colau by the pro-Israel advocacy organization ACOM is being handled by Barcelona’s investigating court number five, the Spanish daily El Pais reported on Wednesday.

The complaint charges that Colau exceeded her powers when she told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an open letter that the Barcelona municipality was “temporarily suspending” its twinning agreement with Tel Aviv, along with all other connections with Israel, in protest at what she called the “systematic violation of the people of Palestine’s human rights.”

Colau informed Netanyahu that the suspension would remain in place “until the Israeli authorities put an end to the system of violations of the Palestinian people and fully comply with the obligations imposed on them by international law and the various United Nations resolutions.”

ACOM’s complaint asserted that Colau acted outside of her jurisdiction in cutting ties, noting as well that the decision was not submitted to the council for a vote, which the former mayor would likely have lost. “The actions of the then Mayor of Barcelona, fully arbitrary and unlawful, compelled ACOM to present a lawsuit at the Provincial Public Prosecutor’s Office of Barcelona in order to investigate these acts,” a statement from the organization said.

Additionally, a second complaint filed by two lawyers, Francesc Jufresa and Ferran Grases, accused Colau of inciting antisemitism by describing Israel as an apartheid state, thereby generating “hatred of the Jewish people,” they argued.

The legal action against Colau over her stance towards Israel adds to the mounting pile of legal woes she has been facing in the course of the last year. In Nov. 2022, the Provincial Court of Barcelona confirmed it was investigating charges that Colau redirected municipal subsidies to organizations that supported her politically. She is also being investigated by the municipality’s Ethics and Conduct Committee over claims of nepotism in hiring policies.

Colau subsequently lost the mayor’s post at the most recent election for the municipal council on May 28.

Barcelona’s small Jewish community was roiled by Colau’s decision, claiming that it resulted in a surge of antisemitic acts. In April, a synagogue run by the Chabad movement was defaced with pro-Palestinian graffiti, with the slogan “Because you kill in Palestine” sprayed in large black letters on the sidewalk at its entrance. Earlier in the same month, the city’s historic Maimonides Synagogue was vandalized with the slogans the slogans “Free Palestine from the River to the Sea” and “Solidarity with the Palestinian People.”

A statement from the Jewish Community of Barcelona (CIB) in the wake of the vandalism said that “holding Jews in general and, in this case, the Jews of Catalonia, to be responsible for the policies of the government and the State of Israel is an obvious example of antisemitism.”

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