Israeli Embassy accuses Spanish government of 'aligning with terrorism'

Conor Faulkner
Conor Faulkner - [email protected]
Israeli Embassy accuses Spanish government of 'aligning with terrorism'
Demonstrators wave Palestinian flags and hold signs as they attend a rally in support of the Palestinian people in Madrid on October 15, 2023. Photo: JAVIER SORIANO/AFP.

The Israeli Embassy in Spain has criticised what it called "absolutely immoral" statements made by "certain members" of the Spanish government in reference to the conflict in Gaza, accusations Spain's foreign ministry strongly denies.


The Israeli Embassy in Spain has released a statement in which it "strongly condemns the recent statements of some members of the Spanish government" with regards to the escalating conflict in Israel and Gaza and calls on the acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to "denounce and condemn unequivocally these shameful statements."


"These statements are not only absolutely immoral, but they also endanger the safety of Jewish communities of Spain, exposing them to the risk of a greater number of incidents and anti-Semitic attacks," the statement also says.

You can see the full statement, posted on Twitter/X below, where the Israeli Embassy in Madrid accuses certain members of the Spanish government of "aligning with this ISIS-style terrorism".

Without naming any specific government ministers, the statement is likely partly directed towards Ione Belarra, leader of Podemos and Minister for Social Rights, as well as other figures in parties to the left of Pedro Sánchez's Socialists (PSOE) who have governed in coalition since 2019.

Belarra attended a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Madrid on Sunday and has been outspoken on social media in the aftermath of Hamas' attack and the resulting Israeli counter-offensive.

Her party's stance was made even clearer when Unidas Podemos member Pablo Fernández wore a Palestinian tracksuit top at a press conference on Monday.

The Israeli statement puts Sánchez in something of an awkward political position as he tries to balance investiture negotiations with left-wing parties Sumar and Podemos and Spain's Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Sumar has explicitly "condemned" the attacks against the civilian population committed by Hamas in Israel, while its leader Yolanda Díaz has used the word "apartheid."

Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has responded with a forceful statement in which it "strongly rejects the falsehoods expressed in the statement of the Israeli Embassy about some of its members and does not accept unfounded insinuations about them."

"Any political leader can freely express positions as a representative of a political party in a full democracy such as Spain," the statement went on to say, clarifying the government position. "In any case, the position of the Spanish government as a whole with respect to the terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas is clear: categorical condemnation, demand for immediate and unconditional release of hostages and recognition of Israel's right to defend itself within the limits set by international law."

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Belarra has herself responded to the statement on Twitter/X. "This government is carrying out war crimes in the Gaza Strip, massive bombings, water and electricity cuts, they are not letting in humanitarian aid. Denouncing this genocide is not 'aligning with Hamas', it is a democratic obligation. Silence, complicity with terror."

Far-left fringes of the government coalition aside, the Spanish government has so far taken what could be considered a slightly outrider position on the issue, particularly when compared to its European neighbours.

Spain is one of the few major Western countries which has not played a visible public role in visits to Israel in the aftermath of the attacks, and Sánchez, along with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, have been reluctant to throw his full weight behind US and EU support of Israel, calling instead for caution in Israel's response.


Political pundits in Spain have suggested this is a foreign policy calculation with domestic policy in mind, namely not to inflame tensions with Sumar or Podemos during a key phase of negotiations to ensure his re-election.

Sánchez has taken a more discreet position on the issue overall, something seemingly at odds with Spain's EU council presidency.

However, he has publicly condemned Hamas and supported Israel's right to defend itself, though he tempered that language by insisting that "it is essential" civilians on all sides be protected.

Spain's acting Prime Minister also said at a European summit this week that recognition of a Palestinian state is the "only way to definitively resolve the conflict" and called for a two-state solution "so that they can coexist in peace and security."


Whereas the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy have all reiterated their positions "as allies and as common friends of Israel", Spain seems reluctant to explicitly do so yet. Of the major European and Western countries, Spain is one of the few governed by the left and the Israeli Embassy statement seems a clear challenge to fringes of the far-left in the Spanish government.

However, although Palestine has historically been a cornerstone foreign policy issue for many left-wing movements and parties around the world, it seems Spain's backseat position on the issue thus far is at least partly rooted in the Spanish left's domestic policy too, and its chances of being reelected.

Sánchez and the acting government have been criticised by the right-wing opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo, who has demanded that the government clarify its position: "They contradict each other, some do not condemn the Hamas terror attacks and others try to justify them," the Partido Popular leader said in an interview on esRadio.


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