New Court Judgement in Barcelona

On January 13, 2016, the plenary session of the City Council of Sant Quirze del Vallès —a residential city of 19,549 inhabitants— passed a decision committing itself to the boycott campaign against Israel.

The examination of the public records showed that after the preliminary recitals denouncing Israel, and a series of equally adamant reiterations —boycott activism is of course, not famed for its intellectual rigour— of breaches of International Law, the decision included a commitment of the City Council to not signing any contract, covenant or agreement with Israeli public bodies, companies or organizations, at least, until Israel would acknowledge the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people, and abide by International Law, nor with companies and organizations outside Israel, that are involved, cooperate or obtain benefits from the alleged violation of International Law or Human Rights in the Palestinian territories, explicitly targeting Israeli multinational companies Elbit Systems and Eden Springs, North-Americans Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar and British G4S.

The boycott decision left oddly unexplored any Human Right abuses in any other country in the Middle East remained. However, it ordered that technical procedures in public procurement were to be adapted to exclude such companies from the purchase of good and the hiring of services.

The City Council was granted the BDS-approved seal that distinguished the city as a “Free Space of Israeli Apartheid”, that was to be displayed in the city’s website and in its publications. Finally, the Council agreed to engage and to foster cooperation with the BDS movement in order to ensure the proper enforcement of the boycott decision. As usual, certificates of the boycott resolution would be issued and sent to the Government, the Regional Council, Congress, the European Parliament, the Embassy of Israel, and the Palestinian Diplomatic Mission in Madrid.

Finding the above less than compelling, I filed an action on constitutional protection of civil liberties on behalf of my client claiming that any individual or company engaged in business with Israel, or simply with the most tenuous relation with Israel, would fall under the scope of the guidelines of the boycott campaign, being liable to the boycott decision. My brief added that would the boycott remain unenforced, it would be enough to dissuade any company that traded with Israel from entering any public procurement proceeding, affecting the principles of non-discrimination and competition that are preeminent in the national Act of Public Sector Procurement, and in the EU procurement directives, and the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA).

On June 1, 2016, the Court number 4 of Barcelona issued a writ of injunction, ordering the City Council to refrain from enforcing the boycott decision as it had detected a possible infringement of the principle of equality before the Law, and breaches of the rights of not to being discriminated against for any reason, and of foreigners residents to enjoy in Spain the same public freedoms than nationals. The writ also stated the existence of discrimination in public procurement.

One year since the boycott decision was passed by the City Council, on January 13, 2017, the Public Court number 4 of Barcelona noticed me the final judgement, annulling the boycott against Israel. The Court regarded discriminatory and in breach of the principle of equality before the Law the blatant commitment of the City Council to abstain itself from covenants, contracts or agreements with Israeli companies on the sole base of where they are chartered, while also targeting other companies or entities that might fall under the indistinct assumption of collaboration, involvement or reaping an economic benefit from the so-called violation of International Law and Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory or the Golan Heights,  leaving undetermined the procedures and authorities that would have to pass judgement on such criteria.

The City Council now has a term of fifteen business days to file an appeal before the High Court of Catalonia in Barcelona.