Xeraco. Court Judgement

On May 30, 2016, the City Council of Xeraco —a Mediterranean small town of 5,907 inhabitants, South of Valencia— passed a decision committing itself to refrain from signing any political, institutional, commercial, agricultural, educational, cultural, sporting or security agreement, contract or covenant with Israeli public bodies, companies and organizations.

The subjects of this primary boycott —Israeli companies, public bodies and organizations— could be exempted from the rigours of the boycott by abiding to the ‘inalienable rights of the Palestinian people’. To be effective such public abjuration should exactly match the terms of the three objectives of the boycott campaign

As in other cities in Spain, the City Council was granted the BDS-approved seal that distinguished the town as a ‘Free Space of Israeli Apartheid’, under the condition of the seal to be displayed in the city’s website and in its publications. In turn the City Council agreed to broadcast the boycott campaign among residents and local businesses, going as far as to inform the neighbours and local businesses that to sell, buy, invest or sign contracts with Israeli companies, including the agri-food, banking, exports and tourism sectors, might well implicate the neighbours in litigation with the Palestinian population, involved them in Human Rights violations, or even, end in indictments for war crimes.

Finally, the City Council agreed to engage and promote an active policy of cooperation with the BDS movement in order to ensure the proper implementation of the boycott decision.

The Court number 10 of Valencia issued on September 1, 2016, an interlocutory writ of injunction ordering the City Council to restrain for carrying out the boycott provisions. The Magistrate stated that although precautionary measures are only to be applied in the very exceptional cases of patent and gross illegality, the endorsement of a boycott campaign and the refusal to enter into agreements, contracts or covenants with Israeli corporations and organizations entail a priori the violation of the principle of political neutrality of public offices, and imply the imposition of unwarranted discrimination against Israeli tenders in public procurement.

On January 26, 2016, the Court number 10 published its decision that annulled the boycott. The Magistrate stressed that the boycott equals to the rejection of tenders based on their opinions, arguing that even a neutral position on the Israeli-Arab conflict from a tender would alienate him from public procurement. Moreover, excluding Israeli tenders from the boycott only when they  “abide by the inalienable rights of the people Palestinian people, under the terms of this agreement’ means nothing less than asking a third party to publicly position himself in a matter of foreign policy and International Law, fields where there is not such an obligation to take a stand, in a clear violation of the constitutional freedom to held personal beliefs and opinions.

The decision holds that even in the absence of its enforcement, the boycott entails the infringement of Human Rights, as the rejection to accept tenders from Israel is tantamount to discrimination on account of national origin and personal opinions. The Court remarked that asking for statements on a controversial issue of foreign affairs is inappropriate for a city council, bound to serve impartially the general interest of its neighbours, an area where is preeminent the absence of coercion into the beliefs of others —however mistaken they might be in the eyes of the council members— nor the promotion of their own. There is a clear separation between politics and public office where the latter is not to be converted into an instrument at the service of the former, especially when the objective is to exclude the adversary, which determines a clear abuse of power that aspires to place public office at the service of political ideas that are discriminatory and contrary to the civil rights of every citizen, in an attempt to coerce others out of their freedom to hold their personal beliefs and opinions.