May 8, 2024 | Flash Brief

Spanish Government Minister Targets Trade With Israel

May 8, 2024 | Flash Brief

Spanish Government Minister Targets Trade With Israel

Latest Developments

A Spanish government minister on May 8 called on Spanish companies conducting business with Israel to ensure that they do not contribute to human rights violations against Palestinians. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Social Rights, Consumption and Agenda 2030 explained that the goal of the minister, Pablo Bustinduy, was to “find solutions to end the genocide in Palestine.”

The Israeli Embassy in Spain condemned Bustinduy’s announcement, pointing to the “false accusation” of genocide. “The demonization and delegitimization of Israel, resorting to baseless accusations, gives encouragement to Hamas and those who pursue the elimination of the state of Israel, and is a clear incitement to hatred and antisemitism,” the embassy said in a statement. It also denounced “the incomprehensible silence in Spain of the majority of intellectuals and human rights organizations in the face of the drama of the 132 kidnapped people who remain in the hands of Hamas terrorists.”

Expert Analysis

“That a government minister in an EU member state is targeting companies trading with Israel, which annually conducts more than $1 billion of business with Spain, is both unprecedented and unacceptable. If Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wants to be seen as an honest broker in the conflict, he must distance himself from Bustinduy’s announcement and make clear that Spain’s commercial relations with Israel will be maintained, in accordance with the stance of the EU as a whole.” — Ben Cohen, FDD Senior Analyst and Manager of Rapid Response

“The Spanish government would be well advised to learn about state anti-BDS laws around the United States before it leads its companies into financial, legal, and reputational disaster.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Bustinduy Warns Spanish Companies

Letters to Spanish companies dispatched on May 8 by Bustinduy — a prominent supporter of the far-left Sumar electoral bloc that joined Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s governing coalition following elections last year — urged them to consult with “human rights experts and other interested parties” regarding the impact upon Palestinians of their commercial ties with Israel. Bustinduy also called for companies to alert consumers to their activities in Israel “to avoid being direct or indirect participants in the human rights violations that the Palestinian people are suffering.”

Economy and Foreign Ministries: ‘We Didn’t Know’

Spain’s economy and foreign ministries claimed that Bustinduy had not consulted them in advance about his initiative. A spokesperson for the foreign ministry said, “[W]e know nothing about the letter,” adding that “[O]ur position is clear on Gaza, Palestine and recognition … but our position is also clear that the State of Israel and the people of Israel are friends of Spain and the Spanish people.” Economy Minister Carlos Body said that he had “not seen the specific statement,” emphasizing that Spain’s goal was to achieve “a ceasefire” and “a situation of peace in the area.” Along with Belgium, Ireland, Slovenia, and Malta, Spain is part of a grouping of European Union member states pushing for the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

Spanish media reported that Bustinduy made his announcement at the behest of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) ambassador in Spain, Husni Abdul Wahed, after he expressed concerns about the presence of European companies in Israel. Colleagues of Bustinduy in the Spanish cabinet, including Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz and Youth Minister Sira Rego, have similarly accused Israel of committing “genocide,” advocating sanctions on Jerusalem.

“EU Members Gear Up for Palestinian State Recognition,” FDD Flash Brief

Spain and Turkey are Leading the Diplomatic War Against Israel,” by Ben Cohen

“EU Would Aid Tehran’s Repression by Lifting Sanctions on Iranian Tech Firm,” by Janatan Sayeh, Behnam Ben Taleblu, and Saeed Ghasseminejad


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