Barcelona City Council Rejects Mayor’s Severing of ‘Twin City’ Ties With Tel Aviv, Calls for ‘Immediate’ Restoration

The Barcelona City Council meeting on Feb. 24, 2023.

February 26, 2023

The Barcelona City Council approved a resolution on Friday calling for the “urgent and immediate” restoration the “twin city” agreement with Tel Aviv that was unilaterally severed earlier this month by Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, who accused the State of Israel of practicing “apartheid” against the Palestinians.

The non-binding measure rejecting Colau’s move was supported by the Socialists’ Party of Catalonia (PSC), a member of the mayor’s governing coalition, as well as the opposition Together for Catalonia (JxCat), Citizens – Party of the Citizenry (Cs), Barcelona for Change (Valents), and People’s Party of Catalonia (PPC).

Colau’s own Barcelona en Comú (BeC), as well as the opposition Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), voted against the measure.

Despite its passage, the resolution was largely symbolic in nature, and the prospects for the ultimate restoration of “twin city” ties with Tel Aviv appear to depend on the results of the upcoming Barcelona municipal elections in May, in which Colau is seeking a third term in office.

“A very negative image of the city has been projected that we are going to try to reverse,” Jordi Martí — a Barcelona City Council member representing Together for Catalonia — said at Friday’s extraordinary plenary session.

Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Director of European Affairs Oriana Marie Krüger stated after the vote, “This marks a victory for the values of diversity and inclusivity that Barcelona and Tel Aviv are known for worldwide.”

Ahead of Friday’s meeting, CAM, the Israel-Spain Forum Alliance (ISFA), and Center for Jewish Impact (CJI) issued a joint call — backed by a petition with more than 15,000 signatures — for the City Council to undo Mayor Colau’s action.

“The efforts to cancel the twin city agreement between Barcelona and Tel Aviv are not only misguided, but they are also rooted in antisemitism according to the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism,” the organizations wrote in a letter — which can be read in full here — to the City Council. “The BDS activists behind the push for the cancellation of the Barcelona-Tel Aviv alliance are peace rejectionists seeking to delegitimize Israel’s very existence.”

“True peace and reconciliation are built through discourse and engagement, not boycotts and isolation, and the bonds between Barcelona and Tel Aviv — which foster tolerance and social harmony across nationalities and faiths — are something to be promoted, not destroyed.”