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Barcelona adopts declaration condemning Israeli occupation, supporting BDS

April 21, 2017 6:24 P.M. (Updated: April 24, 2017 7:20 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Barcelona’s City Council passed an official declaration on Wednesday supporting Palestinian human rights by ending the city’s complicity with the Israeli occupation and recognizing the right to organize with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

According to a statement released by BDS, the declaration includes the promotion of “contracts to ensure respect for human rights, specifically with companies which are linked to the Israeli occupation in Palestine,” and urges the Government of Catalonia to “create a center for study and assessment of the impact of Catalan enterprises investing abroad.”

The statement added that the declaration expressed support for nonviolent resistance campaigns spearheaded by Palestinian and international civil society aimed at defending Palestinian human rights and upholding international laws.

“Through this vote, Barcelona City Council puts an end to the complicity of the city of Barcelona with the flagrant, systematic human rights violations of the colonizing occupation and expansion of the State of Israel in Occupied Palestinian Territories and recognizes the right to BDS,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, the Spanish ministry of foreign affairs released a statement saying that the decision also included forming a follow-up center affiliated to the Spanish government in order to research all contracts and agreements signed with foreign companies so as to ensure that none are complicit in the Israeli occupation.

According to BDS, the number of Spanish cities supporting BDS has soared to 70.

“After 50 years of Israel's military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and decades of its regime of apartheid and settler-colonialism, people of conscience around the world are joining the fast-growing BDS movement in support of the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people,” Rafif Ziyadeh, member of the International Secretary of the Palestinian National Committee of BDS, said in the statement.

“The Barcelona Municipality's recognition of the right to advocate for Palestinian rights through the nonviolent tactics of BDS is not just a triumph for free speech and democratic rights. It is also a clear indicator of the widespread recognition of BDS as an inclusive, inspiring, anti-racist movement that is rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that upholds the basic principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of the humanity," Ziyadeh added.

The BDS movement was founded in July 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.

BDS has gained momentum over the years, with activists targeting companies that act in compliance with Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

At the same time, the Israeli government has introduced anti-BDS policies, including passing a law in March banning foreigners who has openly expressed support in BDS from entering the country.

Head of the Palestinian Federation of Chile and BDS activist Anwar Makhlouf was deported by Israel earlier this month, while British activist and chairman of the London-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) Hugh Lanning was denied entry into Israel in March.

Israeli Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri and Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan announced in August last year that they were forming a joint task force to “expel and ban the entry of BDS activists” into Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

In May last year, Israel issued a travel ban on BDS cofounder Omar Barghouti, a permanent resident in Israel, as Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, stated at the time that the decision reflected “the lengths [Israel] will go to in order to stop the spread of the non-violent BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality."

In March, Israeli authorities detained Barghouti after accusing him of tax evasion, a charge which activists and analysts have said is an attempt to silence the BDS proponent through seemingly apolitical means.
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