Most Barcelona mayoral candidates support resuming Tel Aviv twin city agreement

Incumbent Ada Colau temporarily suspended ties with Israeli city over human rights concerns in Palestine

Candidates for mayor in Barcelona: Eva Parera, Anna Grau, Jaume Collboni, Ernest Maragall, Ada Colau, Xavier Trias and Daniel Sirera
Candidates for mayor in Barcelona: Eva Parera, Anna Grau, Jaume Collboni, Ernest Maragall, Ada Colau, Xavier Trias and Daniel Sirera / Sílvia Jardí
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

May 24, 2023 04:45 PM

May 24, 2023 04:54 PM

The majority of the candidates running to be the next mayor of Barcelona are in favor of resuming the friendship agreement between Tel Aviv and the Catalan capital, as they told Catalan News during a series of press conferences ahead of the local elections.

Mayor Ada Colau announced the suspension of institutional relationships in February.

She addressed a letter to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stating that agreements with his country would be suspended until Israeli authorities put an end "to the systematic violation of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian population."

Mayor defends suspension

During the campaign, the mayor, who is a candidate for reelection, did not reveal whether she will keep the suspension or will lift it but defended her move in February.

"We have made the difficult decision to break relations with the government but not with the population."

After being accused of antisemitism by Catalan Israeli communities, she said she had always "acted against it."

Colau made clear her "commitment for peace and human rights in Israel and Palestine."

Socialists avoid topic but want to strengthen role in Med

One of Colau’s main contenders in the mayoral race, Socialist Jaume Collboni, avoided answering after repeatedly being asked about the matter.

The politician said he wants "Barcelona to intensify its leadership in the Mediterranean region," with a leading role in the Union for the Mediterranean organization.

For him, the city has to act "as a bridge, as a link" in the whole region.

Trias in favor of partnership with Tel Aviv for economic development

For Xavier Trias, from the Trias per Barcelona election list, Barcelona "cannot break relations" with the Israeli city. 

"We are interested in engaging with them because they invest in new technologies and investment."

"We have to learn from them for how they manage progress," he added, pointing out the Catalan capital has collaborated with Tel Aviv for years. 

Esquerra: city cannot give up dialogue

The fourth top party in the polls, pro-independence Esquerra, also sided against the suspension.

For its candidate, Ernest Maragall, the decision made in February is an "ideological one."

Colau "gave up Barcelona's role as a big capital," he said, adding that "dialogue cannot be denied."

Maragall believes that the decision "punishes" the wrong people, Tel Aviv residents.

"It is much better to have an active role, setting up relations and dialogue with both Gaza and Tel Aviv."

Ciudadanos and Valents strongly against suspension

Unionist Ciudadanos' candidate, Anna Grau, also sided against suspending the twin city agreement.

"It is a big disgrace and has to be reversed, we cannot allow Barcelona to give this impression."

"We have always been in favor of not breaking ties," she said.

In the same vein, conservative Valents said the suspension was "a terrible decision, and not a minor one."

"There are synergies between the two cities at an economic and tourism level, and also in the creation of startups," said its candidate, Eva Parera.

The politician accused the current local government of "antisemitism." "It is a boost for the Islamic terrorism surrounding Tel Aviv."

People's Party against twin city agreement halt: it contributes to degrowth

The other unionist right-wing party that currently has councilors and is running in the election, the People's Party, is also against Colau's decision.

Its top candidate, Daniel Sirera, pledged to lift the suspension if he were elected mayor.

 "A lot of people used to come from other countries such as France to Barcelona but they do not come anymore after this decision."

For him, this contributes to degrowth, which "always damages Barcelona residents' interests.