Barcelona City Council 'temporarily suspends' ties with Israel

Mayor announces twin town relationship with Tel Aviv also affected

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau while talking to media outlets on November 4, 2022 in the city hall
Barcelona mayor Ada Colau while talking to media outlets on November 4, 2022 in the city hall / Blanca Blay
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

February 8, 2023 06:25 PM

February 14, 2023 11:57 AM

Barcelona City Council will "temporarily suspend" ties with Israel, mayor Ada Colau announced on Wednesday evening during an event in the city hall.


Just 25 years after signing an agreement with Tel Aviv and Gaza, Colau announced the suspension of institutional relationships.

The mayor addressed a letter to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stating that these agreements would be suspended "until Israeli authorities put an end to the systematic violation of the people of Palestine's human rights."

The mayor announced that this measure "solely and exclusively" affects institutional relationships between the mayor’s office and Israel, but it does not include residents. The twin town relationship with Tel Aviv is also temporarily suspended.

The Catalan capital signed an agreement in 1998 with the Israeli capital and Gaza. 

"We cannot be silent"

"We cannot be silent," the mayor said in her letter, which the Catalan News Agency (ACN) has seen.

The letter makes clear that the policies and actions of the state of Israel must be differentiated "at all times" from the Jewish population as a whole and its culture.

"Barcelona is a city proud of its Jewish heritage as well as the Jewish communities that are part of the city," it reads.

The City Council will strengthen its support and collaboration with groups, both Palestinian and Israeli, that work to build peace in the occupied Palestinian territories, it concludes.

At the beginning of the event held at City Hall, Colau explained that 100 organizations and more than 4,000 residents had signed their names to a request for the council to "break" relations with Israel.

She referred specifically to the social entities driving the citizens' initiative to support the Palestinian people whom she hosted at City Hall: 'Barcelona with Apartheid NO, Barcelona with Human Rights YES'.

Socialists against the breakup

While the mayor announced that the city council would temporarily suspend ties with Israel, the leader of the Socialist party in Barcelona, which is in coalition with Colau's Barcelona en Comú, called it a "huge mistake."


Laia Bonet believes that Colau did not bring the proposal to a vote as "it would have been unanimously rejected," so she "made a decree from her office."

Bonet announced that PSC will propose an initiative to "restore" relations between Barcelona and Tel Aviv and to "reinforce, not weaken, the role of Barcelona in the world".

NGOs had called for end to relationship, a federation of over 100 Catalan NGOs, had urged Barcelona mayor Ada Colau to put an end to the Catalan capital's twin city relationship with Tel Aviv following the devastating Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in May 2021.   

In a manifesto, the federation called for "efforts to be stepped up as well as contacts with local civil society groups in order to de-escalate violence, protect and defend human rights, and to end the occupation."

According to, the Catalan government should end all security sector ties to the country and no longer have the public Agency for Business Competitiveness (ACCIÓ), which promotes Catalan businesses abroad, consider it a strategic region also believes that the Spanish government should stop buying and selling weapons from Israel, adding that authorities should not employ the services of "companies that profit from human rights violations of the Palestinian people."

Parliament, 'apartheid,' and two foreign ministers

Barcelona city council's move follows a parliamentary motion that considered Israeli treatment of Palestinians ‘equivalent to apartheid.’

The declaration, dating back to June last year, set a new encounter between the former junior coalition partner Junts per Catalunya and the senior Esquerra Republicana. 

At the time, the then foreign minister, Victòria Alsina, said she found the resolution "unhelpful." 

"The resolution does not help to solve the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians at all. It only serves to harm the good relationship that Catalonia has with Israel with an impact that is difficult to assess," Alsina said. 

"Catalonia needs to be seen as a country that is a trustworthy partner," she added.  Alsina even considered that "this is not at all the position of the Catalan government, this is not at all the position of the Catalan population," the former foreign minister said in an interview with Israel's I24 News TV channel during a trip to the region.

Ahead of the vote, ERC MP Meritxell Serret, at the time and current foreign minister, said that Israel’s position "favors the growth of radicalism." 

"What is happening in Israel differs from being a democratic response to a political conflict. It differs from being a response that respects human rights. It is the complete opposite," Serret said. 

After Junts per Catalunya voted to leave the cabinet, Serret took Alsina's position. For her, opening a Catalan delegation in Israel was "not fully definitive," and the priority was rather to "consolidate" the current network of government offices abroad, she said when asked about the plans of launching a new delegation in the Middle Eastern country, a project pushed by Alsina.