Spanish Court Suspends Anti-Israel Boycott in La Roda de Andalusia

November 14, 2017

The Court issued a writ of interim injunction, which temporarily suspends the anti-Israel boycott passed by the City Council of La Roda de Andalusia; Court calls the boycott an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech, saying City Council exceeded their powers in passing BDS public policies

SEVILLE, SPAIN—On November 7, a district court in Seville, Spain, issued a writ of interim injunction against the City Council of La Roda de Andalusia, suspending the Council’s discriminatory boycott of products from the Jewish State of Israel, and further suspending the decision by the Council to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. The interim injunction hands the campaign in La Roda—whose Council, the BDS movement in Spain claims, was the first in the world to join the boycott—a serious loss and paves the way for further legal action against the enforcement of BDS policies, and against the Mayor of La Roda, Fidel Romero.

Upon hearing initial arguments, Judge Luis Alfredo de Diego Díez of Seville ordered the boycott to be halted while legal proceedings initiated by The Lawfare Project in Spain continue. Judge De Diego further stated that the City Council had exceeded its power in public procurement by committing to the boycott, and that their action had constituted a de facto veto that discriminated not only in the area of public procurement, but also in every area relating to Israel, extending as unconstitutional attempts of prior censorship, into free speech, and academic and artistic freedoms. According to the Court, the boycott was also in breach of the principle of political neutrality of public offices, whose aim is to further the general interests of the public rather than promoting the ideas of a political faction.

The City Council of La Roda announced their participation in the discriminatory BDS campaign, which opposes any economic, institutional, academic, or cultural exchanges with Israel, in August of 2014. Since then, La Roda had been enforcing the boycott by inspecting machine-readable barcodes from every item purchased in public tenders, and returning to its suppliers any product that carried the barcode number 729, the number that denotes Israeli-made products.

The Mayor of La Roda, Fidel Romero, has been a visible proponent of the boycott since it was implemented. In January 2016, he appeared at the “BDS Forum” held in San Sebastian, where BDS leader Omar Barghouti and Riya Hassan, Europe Campaigns Officer of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society groups leading the global BDS movement, introduced the new boycott strategy for Spain.

At the same event, representatives from La Roda claimed they were the first city in the world to have joined the boycott against Israel, while Mayor Romero explained in detail how city officials in the Purchases Department were implementing the boycott after receiving his order that barcodes should be inspected to find products made by Israeli companies, and that those products with flagged barcodes should be automatically returned.

In a previous press conference, Mayor Romero, standing with BDS activists, and members of the local Palestinian community, called for protection from the proceedings undertaken by a Jewish Spanish citizen—represented by The Lawfare Project’s Spanish counsel—asking for assistance from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the regional government, and the United Nations, while suggesting he might travel to Geneva to seek help from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“The strategy of targeting individuals and companies who hold freedoms and rights in order to garner a political ‘win’ failed to impress the Court,” said The Lawfare Project’s Spanish counsel, Ignacio Wenley Palacios, who has secured over 40 writs of injunction and decisions against the Spanish boycott campaign. “The fact that groups target Israelis, and ultimately Jews, in the name of spurious arguments on collective rights, with discrimination and blatant breaches of the principle of equality under the law, should concern all of us: Jews and non-Jews alike. This decision shows that we must stand up in defense of the freedoms and liberties of every individual.”

He went on to say, “It is individuals that ought to be protected against the abuses of radical politics, while Mayor Romero should be relieved from his post for clear breaches of the non-discrimination policies that rule government bodies.”

A copy of the writ of interim injunction is available in Spanish upon request.