Spanish Minister Urges Companies To Stop Doing Business With Israel


By Fernando Heller

(EurActiv) — Spanish companies doing business with Israel should take all the necessary measures to ensure that their commercial relations with the state “do not contribute to the genocide in Palestine”, warned Social Rights Minister Pablo Bustinduy of the left-wing Sumar platform, provoking a harsh response from Tel Aviv.

According to sources from the Bustinduy‘s ministry, the minister has sent several letters to Spanish companies operating in Israel asking them to inform him of the measures they have taken to help prevent a worsening of the “genocide in Palestine”, Euractiv’s partner EFE reported.

More than 36000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of Israel’s offensive in Gaza following Hamas attacks in October 2023, according to local health officials.

Bustinduy – a former member of the now almost defunct far-left Podemos party – has asked companies to report on the measures they have taken to limit the risks of possible human rights abuses that their activities and business relations could entail in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Gaza.

The letter has been met with surprise in official circles in Madrid and anger in Tel Aviv, contributing to increasingly strained relations between the two sides.

The Israeli embassy in Spain’s capital on Wednesday accused the minister – and other members of Sumar and the Spanish radical left – of levelling a “false accusation” against Israel.

“The demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel, resorting to unfounded accusations, gives wings to Hamas and those who seek the disappearance of the state of Israel, are a clear incitement to hatred and encourage anti-Semitism”, a statement said.

Although the Israeli embassy in Madrid does not mention Bustinduy by name, the communiqué refers to the alleged hostile attitude of the Spanish radical left—Sumar, Podemos, and other regional parties—towards the country.

Israeli diplomatic sources refer – without mentioning any names – to “some Spanish ministers, intellectuals and media” who are said to be enemies of Israel.

The ultimate aim of the controversial letter, according to the social ministry’s sources, is for Spanish citizens to know what measures are being taken on the ground by companies in the Iberian country that trade with Israel so as not to participate – directly or indirectly – in “the serious human rights violations that suffered by the Palestinian people”.

New serious incident with Israel

In this regard, Bustinduy recalls in the letter that on 26 January, the International Court of Justice(ICC) in The Hague ordered Israel to take immediate and effective measures to prevent “genocide” in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, Economy Minister Carlos Cuerpo (PSOE/S&D) expressed surprise at the news on Wednesday.

Cuerpo insisted that the coalition government between Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s PSOE (S&D) and Sumar was “very clear” about its vision of the situation in Gaza and “the importance of maintaining human rights in the area”.

On the other hand, sources in the Spanish foreign ministry told EFE that they knew nothing about the matter.

“This is the first we have heard of this letter. We don’t understand what (Minister Bustinduy) means (when he talks about) ‘The government’. We don’t know anything about this letter,” the sources stressed.

It is not the first time that a member of Sumar has been highly critical of the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Spanish Deputy Prime Minister and Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz, leader of Sumar, on several occasions, has publicly described Israel’s offensive as “genocide”, as has the progressive platform’s spokesman and Spanish Culture Minister Ernest Urtasun.

Last weekend, Díaz urged Sánchez that Spain should recognise Palestinian statehood as soon as possible, a promise that the Spanish prime minister has been making for months, which, according to some diplomatic sources, could be realised within a few weeks, perhaps before the summer.


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