"We are the victims of this fraud"
says Spanish Ambassador about the PA TV ad
calling for boycott of Israeli products
by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Following Palestinian Media Watch's exposure of Palestinian Authority TV's ad calling for boycott of all Israeli products , which listed the Spanish government as sponsor, the Spanish Ambassador to Israel said to the Jerusalem Post that the ad was not paid for with Spanish money.
"We are the victims of this fraud," said Alvar Iranzo, Spanish Ambassador to Israel, although he had not yet contacted the PA for an explanation. The Spanish consulate in Jerusalem would follow up on the matter, he explained, describing the ad as "in frontal opposition to the [Spanish] government's opposition to any boycott of Israeli goods, much less a blanket boycott like the one insinuated in the video."
A senior PA official who wanted to remain anonymous told the Jerusalem Post that the ad would be "corrected" and that "someone made a mistake," calling for the boycott of all Israeli products, while they intended to call only for boycott of products from "Jewish settlements."
Click to see Israeli Channel 2 TV News' coverage of the story
Following is the article by Herb Keinon in the Jerusalem Post:
Headline: "Spain denies sponsoring Palestinian ad to boycott Israel"
Advertisement showed the Spanish government's logo; ambassador tells 'Post' "We are the victims of this fraud."
A "public service" advertisement on Palestinian television calling for the boycott of Israeli goods is not being paid for by Spanish tax payers' euros, Spanish Ambassador Alvar Iranzo told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday.
Iranzo was responding to a video posted Tuesday by the Palestinian Media Watch organization showing the ad, which has been running for the last week on PA TV. The advertisement announces at the end that it was sponsored by the Spanish government, the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, AECID (Spanish governmental humanitarian aid development), ACSUR (a Spanish nonprofit organization), and the Canaan Joint
Development Project for Jerusalem.
Iranzo said the Spanish Foreign Ministry and its aid arm, AECID, both denied financing the advertisement, and that the NGO listed as a sponsor had sent a letter to the ministry saying it bore no direct responsibility for the video.
"We are the victims of this fraud," the ambassador said.
He added that he had not yet contacted PA TV to determine how this had happened, but that the Spanish consulgeneral in Jerusalem would follow up on the matter. Iranzo said his first priority was to check with Madrid and find out if there was any Spanish involvement.
The Spanish envoy said the government was intent on seeing who was responsible for the advertisement and misuse of his government's logo.
"The substance of the advertisement is in frontal opposition to the government's opposition to any boycott of Israeli goods, much less a blanket boycott like the one insinuated in the video," he said.
While the Palestinian Authority has waged a campaign for months to boycott goods made in the settlements, this particular ad targeted Osem potato chips, which are not manufactured beyond the Green Line.
A boy featured in the ad drops the Israeli potato chips he has taken off a store's shelf after hearing machine gun fire outside, and says, "I don't want the Israeli product, I want the Palestinian product."
A statement issued by the Spanish Embassy said that "a boycott of Israeli products is not a policy of the Spanish Government. It should be recalled, however, that in the frame of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Israel, the products originating from the Occupied Palestinian Territories do not enjoy tax benefits in the European Customs Union."
It added that "the position of the European Union regarding Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has been expressed ultimately in the conclusions of the Council for Foreign Affairs on December 13, 2010."
In those conclusions, the EU said, "Our views on settlements, including in East Jerusalem, are clear: they are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace."
A senior PA official in Ramallah announced on Wednesday that the ad would be "corrected" so that it referred only to goods made in Jewish settlements.
The official, who asked not to be named, told the Post that the original ad was supposed to refer only to products made in settlements.
"Apparently someone made a mistake, and we will correct it," the official said, accusing Israeli media outlets of exploiting the case to "incite" against the PA. "Our declared policy is to boycott settler products, and we won't succumb to pressure or threats to change it."
Tovah Lazaroff and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.
[Jerusalem Post, Jan. 13, 2011]