Spanish minister has urged the international community to sanction Israel, which she accused of a “planned genocide” of Palestinians in Gaza.
Ione Belarra, the Spanish minister for social rights and leader of the far-left Podemos party, also criticized world leaders for an apparent double standard – saying while human rights abuses in Ukraine have been condemned, there is a “deafening silence” on the victims of Israeli bombardment.
“The Israeli state must end this planned genocide against the Palestine people,” Belarra said on Wednesday. “Why can we give lessons in human rights in other conflicts and not here when the world is watching in horror? The deaths of thousands of children, the mothers desperately shouting because they are witnessing the killing of their children.”
“There is a deafening silence of so many countries and so many political leaders who could do something. I speak about what I know well, which is the European Union. It seems the display of hypocrisy, which the European Commission is showing, is unacceptable.”
Belarra suggested that Spain and other nations should break off diplomatic relations with Israel in protest against its assault on Gaza, which began on October 7 after the Palestinian group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, carried out an unprecedented attack in Israel, killing more than 1,000 Israelis and taking hundreds captive.
With the stated aim to crush Hamas, Israel then began bombarding Gaza, one of the world’s most densely populated areas, killing more than 10,000 people, including many children.
Belarra also called for economic sanctions on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who she described as a “war criminal”, and his political circle.
She contrasted the EU’s swift action in the case of Ukraine, where it imposed sanctions on Russian President Putin and his aides soon after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February last year, with its inaction on Israel.
“They reacted [over the Ukraine war]. We are losing the opportunity. At the moment, we could do lots of things,” she said.
Belarra’s comments come amid growing pressure on the Spanish government to review its arms sales to Israel, which amounted to more than 100 million euros ($113 million) in 2022, according to official data.
Several Spanish regions and municipalities have also declared themselves “free of Israeli apartheid” and pledged to boycott Israeli products and companies.
Belarra’s party, Podemos, is part of a coalition government with the Socialist Party, led by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who has expressed his “deep concern” over the situation in Gaza and called for an immediate ceasefire.
Belarra said she hoped that Sanchez would listen to the voices of the Spanish people, who have taken to the streets in recent days to show their solidarity with the Palestinians and demand an end to the Israeli aggression.
“I hope that the Spanish government will be brave enough to take a stand on this issue and not be afraid of the pressure from the powerful lobby that supports Israel,” she said.