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Over 50 public figures praise Barcelona Mayor for cutting ties with ‘Israel’

More than 50 public figures, including Mark Ruffalo, Susan Sarandon, Viggo Mortensen and Alia Shawkat, have signed a statement of support for Barcelona’s mayor after she severed the city’s ties with ‘Israel’.

In addition to the aforementioned actors, signatories include Arundhati Roy, Naomi Klein, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Marianne Faithful, Judith Butler, Ken Loach, Annie Ernaux, and Hanan Ashrawi.

Last week, Mayor Ada Colau sent Israeli occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a letter announcing that the city would be ending its relationship with ‘Israel’ over its treatment of Palestinians. Barcelona and Tel Aviv have been twinned for 25 years.

“I have decided to temporarily suspend relations with the state of Israel and with the official institutions of that state -including the twinning agreements with the Tel Aviv City Council – until the Israeli authorities put an end to the system of violations of the Palestinian people and fully comply with the obligations imposed on them by international law and the various United Nations resolutions. We cannot be silent,” Colau wrote.

“We, the undersigned, oppose racism in all its forms and uphold the principles of justice and human rights in a holistic way that includes Palestinians. We are morally outraged that powerful governments react to Israel’s grave violations of Palestinian rights under international law with empty gestures and expressions of ‘concern,’ while simultaneously arming, funding and shielding from accountability Israel’s decades-old system of injustice and continuing business as usual with it,” the statement of support reads.

The letter went on to say that the move by Barcelona’s Mayor “reminds us of the courageous city councils that pioneered cutting links with apartheid South Africa in the past”. The letter is also signed by Angela Davis and South African MP Nkosi Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela.

In a personal message to the Mayor, letter signatory Ronnie Kasrils, veteran of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and a former minister in Mandela’s government, added that he was “elated by the decision” which he said “reverberates beyond Barcelona. It inspires the international community, and those of us living in a free, democratic South Africa.”

The letter ended by commending those speaking out for human rights in Barcelona: “You all give us hope that justice, freedom, equality and dignity for all can prevail.”

Colau’s decision has been also praised by human rights groups and Palestine activists across social media.

“It’s so promising to see the mayor of Barcelona, among other leaders taking a real stand against #IsraeliApartheid,” tweeted the organization American Muslims for Palestine. “The US is becoming more isolated in its loyalty to Israel with every day that passes.”

“It only takes ‘one’ courageous principled person/people, to start correcting a path of injustice & make history,” wrote UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese. “Upholding int’l human rights law can never be a wrong choice.”

However, pro-Israel groups and lawmakers slammed the move.

“The decision gives support to extremists, terrorist organizations and antisemitism,” said Israel’s Foreign Ministry. “The friendship between Israel and Barcelona is long-standing, and is based on shared culture and values. Even this unfortunate decision will not damage this friendship.”

Madrid Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida denounced Colau’s actions and offered to twin his own city with Tel Aviv. “I do not know the reasons why we were not twinned but I think this is a great opportunity to show Tel Aviv and, by extension, the entire State of Israel that Madrid is clear about where it has to be; that Madrid is clear on the right side,” he said in a video posted to Twitter. “Madrid is clear that we have to strengthen our relations with a democracy, a State governed by the rule of law like Israel.”

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