Foreign minister hopes to ‘consolidate’ business relations with Israel

Victòria Alsina considers Catalonia’s work toward peace in Palestine as an international “reference point”

Catalonia's foreign minister, Victòria Alsina, meets with director of the Institute of National Security Studies in Israel, Manuel Trajtenberg, left
Catalonia's foreign minister, Victòria Alsina, meets with director of the Institute of National Security Studies in Israel, Manuel Trajtenberg, left / Foreign ministry

ACN | Barcelona

September 20, 2022 08:03 PM

September 21, 2022 10:01 AM

Catalonia’s foreign minister, Victòria Alsina, is hoping to “consolidate” relations with Israel, a country she describes as a “start-up nation”, on a four-day visit to the country, as well as Palestine.

The Junts minister said on Tuesday that Catalonia is an international “reference point” for cooperation policies aimed at delivering peace and aid to Palestine, work which she pointed out has been a priority for Catalonia “for years.”

The minister met with representatives of organizations such as the Catalan NGO Hèlia, which works to improve the living conditions of Palestinian women exposed to sexist violence, and the Women's Studies Center (WSC), which works to protect and defend women's rights.

According to Alsina, Israel's economic development is based "on knowledge and technology, on innovation and research, on the transfer of knowledge between universities and companies, between the public and private sectors," before adding that this model is what the Catalan executive wants to emulate. 

The head of foreign action considers that Catalonia must "continue to be a hub in southern Europe and a potential partner of Israel in the Mediterranean."

Alsina met with economist Manuel Trajtenberg, director of the Institute of National Security Studies in Israel, a think tank that the Catalan executive describes as the most prestigious in the country. Both have addressed the creation of a Mediterranean macro-region and the need to work together from both shores.

"Working with the government of Israel and with all the public and private institutions of this country is an opportunity to connect us in Mediterranean logic and the Abraham Accords, which open up new possibilities for regional collaboration," the minister explained. 

Visit to West Bank organizations

The minister for foreign affairs visited Ramallah in the West Bank on Tuesday, where she highlighted the solidarity work Catalonia has undertaken with Palestinian groups.

"Palestine is a priority country for Catalan cooperation," Alsina explained, who said that the organizations she met with told her that this cooperation "is fundamental for the programs they carry out."

"We trust that we will be able to continue collaborating in the coming years," the Junts minister said. 

Alsina met with two civil society networks in Palestine, Hèlia and the Women's Studies Center, which work to combat violence against women

Al-Muntada, a forum of Palestinian NGOs fighting against gender-based violence, and PNGO, a coordination space for more than 25 organizations that promote the empowerment and autonomy of civil society, also participated in the event.

The minister was unable to travel to Nablus as planned on Tuesday, the city where the Hélia and WSC project funded by the Government is being deployed. 

The United Nations has restricted access to the city following clashes in the area, a fact that has prevented the visit on the ground and the reception with the governor of the city.

Catalonia officially declares treatment of Palestinians ‘equivalent to apartheid’

In June of this year, the Catalan parliament publicly condemned Israeli acts in the Palestinian Occupied Territory as "against international law and are equivalent to apartheid." While pro-Palestine civil society groups welcomed the news, a Catalan pro-Israel association considered it destructive. The decision makes Catalonia the first European parliament to do so.

The text also condemned the “human rights violations” against the Palestinian population. Despite being against the entire motion, JxCat voted in favor of this point.

ERC, far-left CUP, and ECP  put the resolution forward following Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch’s reports denouncing the situation faced by Palestinians.

According to the two international organizations, Israel has "several ways of discrimination and oppression evoking to a continued suppression of the Palestinian human live development."