Catalan government to keep Tel Aviv business cooperation office open despite Gaza war

Pro-Palestinian activists occupied Catalonia Trade & Investment offices in Barcelona demanding to cut relations with Israel

Albert Castellanos, general director of the business organization,
Albert Castellanos, general director of the business organization, / Eloi Tost

ACN | @agenciaacn | Tarragona

May 16, 2024 12:01 PM

May 16, 2024 03:17 PM

The Catalan government ruled out closing its Catalonia Trade & Investment business office in Tel Aviv, Israel, despite ongoing protests demanding its closure, as announced on Thursday by the general director of the business organization, Albert Castellanos.

He also said that, while the Gaza war continues, the agency will not develop new projects. 

Castellanos said that the Catalonia Trade & Investment office in Tel Aviv provides services to companies, but it is not a representation in the territory, as the Catalan government delegations are.

Protesters from the 'Enough Complicity With Israel' platform occupied the organization's headquarters on Passeig de Gràcia on Wednesday morning, demanding the closure of the Tel Aviv office.

"We call on the new government to close Catalonia Trade & Investment's office in Tel Aviv, to end economic and diplomatic relations with Israel, and to stop the repression against those in solidarity with Palestine," said Alys Samson of the Enough Complicity With Israel platform.

Actuació policial a la manifestació pro palestina
Catalan police Mossos d'Esquadra broke up the protest / Redacció

The demonstrators held a press conference denouncing the business agency's ties with "Israeli colonialism" amid the war going on in Gaza with more than 35.000 victims, mostly civil Palestinians. 

"Israel's business activities are not neutral; they take place in a context of occupation, massive human rights violations and apartheid, as recognized by the United Nations Rapporteur," said Nora Miralles, researcher at the Observatory for Human Rights and Business in the Mediterranean (ODHE). 

Police broke-up

After the press conference, protesters staged a peaceful performance to denounce the harsh conditions in Palestinian prisons, with a dozen people barely clothed and kneeling on the ground. 

At that point, the Catalan police Mossos d'Esquadra broke up the protest, pushing the demonstrators with batons and causing tense scenes as some demonstrators fell to the ground. 

Once the Mossos secured the area, the protesters who remained inside were escorted out of the building.

The action coincided with the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, the mass displacement of a majority of Palestinians from their land in 1948 that preceded the establishment of Israel.

After the performance at Catalonia Trade & Investment headquarters, many joined a student strike and demonstration in the city center of Barcelona calling to "Stop the Genocide."