President Rivlin called on Spain to fight BDS and anti-Israel bias, which sabotage the chances of ever reaching a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday addressed a special plenary of both houses of the Spanish parliament in Madrid, during which he criticized the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction) movement as a body “infected with anti-Semitic elements.”
The BDS movement has a strong presence in Spain, where Rivlin is on a state visit to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of relations between Israel and Spain. Rivlin was received by both President of the Senate, Pío García-Escudero Márquez, and President of the Congress of Deputies, Ana María Pastor Julián, at a ceremony which included the playing of both national anthems and signing of the official guestbook. The Israeli president was then presented with both the Gold Medal of the Senate, and the Gold Medal of the Congress of Deputies, before being shown antique books from the Senate Library.
“I believe that we must not let politics hold back cooperation, to stand in the way of the will and the ability of all of us to be good to each other,” he stated, expressing his hope that Spain will to continue “to be a voice that emphasizes the importance of cooperation, a voice that opposes boycotts.”
“In this house too, there are those who criticize –sometimes harshly– Israeli policy. But there must be a barrier between criticism and a boycott,” Rivlin stressed. “Anyone who tries to harm the State of Israel by means of boycotts and delegitimization, is personally sabotaging the chances of ever reaching a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and will find themselves on the wrong side of history.”
Criticism Without Any Facts
Rivlin charged that while there are those who speak ill of the Jewish state, “there are many who speak about Israel without knowing a single fact about it and having never visited. Israel, much like Spain, and perhaps even to a greater extent, is a diverse society. Every fifth citizen in Israel is Arab. We don’t see this heterogeneity as a weakness but as a strength. For us, a diverse society is an important component of our human capital.”
He invite the Spanish lawmakers to come visit Israel and “see it for yourselves, understand it in a deeper context. I have no doubt that you will be surprised.”
“Israel has always longed for peace with our neighbors,” Rivlin underscored. “Even now, when the peace process is stalled, it remains a guiding compass. We look forward to the fulfillment of this process, in the form of a peace settlement achieved through negotiations, while restoring trust between the parties.”
A small group of 20 pro-Palestinian protestors stood outside the Spanish Parliament, calling out “murderer” and “free Palestine” while Rivlin visited, Israel’s Ynet news reported.
Rivlin later met with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at his office.
The President spoke with the Prime Minister about the Spanish Government’s position against the campaign to boycott Israel, and noted such efforts were, “infected with anti-Semitic elements.”
“It is allowed, of course, to protest – but it cannot be allowed to cross the border into boycotts,” Rivlin said.
In this context, Rivlin said that Israel would be pleased to see Spain change its voting pattern at international forums in a way that would express the good bilateral relations between the two countries. “Decisions are made in international fora that undermine integrity and intelligent thought.”
“I warmly recall to you,” said the President, “that the King of Spain is also known as the King of Jerusalem, and to come to UNESCO and say that there is no connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish people is not only ignorance, it is an affront to intellectual integrity. So I would request that you ensure that you are not taking part in decisions that result from unrelated political struggles.”
By: United with Israel Staff
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