Although Israel was officially born on 14th May 1948, Spain and Israel only signed diplomatic relations on the 17th January 1986. The forty-year lacuna might have been, in part, because Spain didn’t want to sour its relationship with Arab countries. Spain, however, still doesn’t recognise Palestine as a state, despite efforts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, although it ‘enjoys excellent relations with the Palestinian National Authority’ – the Fatah agency in partial control of the region.
Today, and in contrast to most of the western world, the Spanish media could be described as being lukewarm towards its support of Israel in the current conflict. The politics here are more concerned with trading blows between the (pro-Palestine) left and the (mildly pro-Israel) right than what might be Spain’s official position in the Middle East (which is, more or less, spreading criticism equally between Hamas and Netanyahu).
Spain, having been largely under Moorish domination for seven hundred years, and being the closest point in Western Europe to North Africa, is more sensitive to the Arabs than – perhaps – to a regime which is located far away at the other end of the Mediterranean.
But here, we shall only talk of the Israel/Palestine struggle (for land) as it affects Spain.
Thus, the right wing must confront the left – if the Basque EH Bildu party asks for the release of the Spanish hostage Iván Illarramendi (he’s a Basque) held by Hamas, then naturally El Español will write that ETA used to hold hostages too.
The official PP website claims that Alberto Núñez Feijóo would have gone – as president of both Spain and the European Union – to both Israel and Palestine for talks, however as things stand today, “nobody expects or can rely upon Spanish participation’’ (Pedro Sánchez was in Egypt about the same time that Feijóo made his constructive remarks – preaching for restraint at the ‘Cairo For Peace’ meeting held on Saturday. Furthermore, Sánchez also phoned Netanyahu on Sunday asking for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza).
After the Podemos leader and acting Minister of Social Security Ione Belarra called for Spanish support of Palestine and for Pedro Sánchez to ‘condemn Israel’, Núñez Feijóo reacted by saying that Sánchez must instantly relieve her of her position but, alas, the socialist leader needs their approval (Podemos has five votes within the Sumar alliance) to make the looming investiture work.
Vox says it wants to cut all official Spanish aid to Palestine.
Sumar wants the Government to recognise the Palestinian state as soon as possible.
The situation would appear to be getting worse, while the terrible ongoing events in Ukraine are pushed to the inside pages.
How will things progress and will Pedro Sánchez be able to return to power in the upcoming debate and vote for the presidency?
With poor timing, I shall be taking a vacation for November – to stay with my son in far-off Oklahoma: where the talk is all of Trump, abortion and guns. I look forward to enjoying a Thanksgiving turkey and my seventieth birthday over there before returning home at the beginning of December.
Maybe by then, things will have settled down.
From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight here: ‘“Despite the sharp rise in mortgage rates, Spanish house prices continue to grow and are holding up much better than in the rest of the eurozone,” writes Wouter Thierie, an economist at Dutch bank ING’s ‘Think’ egg-head division, and author of an article published last week. The piece points out it’s not all plain sailing with new mortgage loans down 18.6% in July, and sales down 10.1% (data from the INE). “Still, the downturn is not as strong as in other countries,” writes Mr Thierie, who then goes on to explain why Spanish house prices are holding up better than most Eurozone peers…’
‘62% of home buyers this year in the Balearics have been foreigners, according to a study by the financial company specialising in the real estate market UCI, which notes that foreign home purchases have fallen by 9 points compared to last year. 38% of foreign homebuyers in the Balearics are German, 25% are British and 13% are American. In the survey of real estate agents on which the data is based, 71.4% of them believe that in 2023 the market will remain stable…’ Item from The Majorca Daily Bulletin here.
An interesting article and video from LaSexta looks at the problems with small rentals and high costs in Madrid. ‘I’ve got 400 places already rented out, and I’m asking 980€ for a 19m2 apartment’, says the man on the phone.
From The Corner here: ‘The percentage of household income needed to buy a home rose to 21% over the last year, according to a study published by the portal Idealista based on 3Q23 data. The real estate platform also highlights that the percentage of household income needed to rent a home grew to 31%. On the other hand, the construction of public housing has fallen by 86% in Spain compared to the historical maximum recorded in 2006, with 80,000 homes built on average per year, which means that the country needs 761,000 new homes for affordable rentals over the next 10 years’.
The six best municipalities to live for retired folk, says 20Minutos, are here. These being (apparently) Benalmádena, Mijas, Almuñécar, Sitges, Miraflores de la Sierra and Peñíscola.
From Hosteltur here: How the hotel room-charges have increased in various resorts across Spain in 2022 (compared with pre-Covid 2019).
From The Guardian here: ‘A good cruise is one that doesn’t come’: Europe’s ports bear the brunt of ship pollution. As health and environmental impact of cruise ships becomes clearer, Mediterranean ports consider bans and restrictions’. It says ‘…On 30 July, six cruise ships stopped in Barcelona, the European destination most affected by cruise ships. This means that between 10,000 and 30,000 passengers could have been cascading along Barcelona’s Ramblas that day…’
Mapping Spain brings us ‘Tourist scams to watch out for in Spain’ here.
‘EU confirms timeline for new border controls: Everything you need to know about EES and ETIAS’, says Euronews here, adding that at least some parts of the system will be operational by late 2024. Meanwhile, SVI says: ‘ETIAS launch date officially postponed for spring 2025, EU confirms’. Evidently, it’s not a thing to worry about quite yet…
From 20Minutos here: ‘The OECD recommends that Spain eliminates its anti-crisis support measures, increases IVA (by excising those areas of reduced tax-rates) and that it applies fiscal adjustments to reduce debt’. Regarding the behaviour of the economy in the last year, the OECD points out that Spain "has managed well". ‘Although the GDP will slow down next year’ – says the article – ‘the national economy will remain "resilient", supported by national demand and European recovery funds’.
The far-left ctxt complains here about ‘greed-flation’ (avarinflación in Spanish) – those companies that make an extra profit during inflationary times. The highest margins appear to be those taken by the energy, food and banking industries says the article.
A lot of tax money doesn’t make it to Hacienda, because the companies involved are paying lower rates elsewhere. elDiario.es here: ‘Spain loses almost 16% of corporate tax – around 4,000 million euros – due to the flight of profits to the Netherlands, Ireland or Switzerland:
countries with more advantageous tax systems’.
Spain also has a few euros tucked away in tax havens (‘non-cooperative jurisdictions’) says Forbes here. To be a little more precise – 140,000 million euros or so…
It’s early days, but with ever-less bank branches, and fewer ATMs (there are now a little over 45,000 cash machines in Spain) some of the banks have struck a deal with Correos to act as a cash provider. The BBVA is leading this process through an app and other banks – including the Santander and IberCaja – are following suit. The next step under consideration is to have the postman deliver the cash! Cor! Result: everybody happy.
With the debate for the investiture approaching (first fortnight of November?), Sumar and the PSOE are now in agreement over the details of their coalition. The main points – now agreed – are the reduction of weekly employment hours from 40 to 37.5 by 2025, a raise in the Minimum Wage (SMI), and 250€ per month rental aid for the Under-35s in certain cases. 20Minutos has the full ten-point deal here. The employers union CEOE describes the first point – the 37.5 hour week, as (says El Confidencial here) ‘a constitutional abuse with an evident interventionist desire’ - as they weren’t invited into the discussion.
My own opinion is that the PSOE/Sumar combo won’t manage to put together enough votes to form a government (we can always blame the Catalans or maybe even the intransigence of the PP/Vox), obliging Spain to suffer a fresh election in January. If this turns out to be the case, the lefties will enter with a large advantage – since the workers will see their proposed reduced working hours paid with the same wages under threat, and in consequence turn out in unusually high numbers to vote…
Vox has various departments confirmed within the City Hall of Valencia says Europa Press here. These include Employment, Health and Beach Management. The mayoress María José Catalá (PP) says that the coalition is strong and unified and at the service of the citizens.
The former lieutenant colonel of the Guardia Civil Antonio Tejero, convicted of the attempted 1981 coup d'état (wiki), has sent a complaint to the State Attorney General's Office against the acting president of the Government, Pedro Sánchez. The former coup leader, now 91 years old, accuses the politician of exercising “anti-Spanish manoeuvres that are endangering the identity of the Homeland”. El Español has the story here.
‘The Government will not say whether Sánchez will visit Netanyahu in Israel as various leaders like Biden, Sunak or Macron have already done’ says 20Minutos disapprovingly.
A topical cartoon here shows the descent of the PP’s criticism of Sánchez, falling from the inexcusable low of ‘Que te vote Txapote’, via ‘the Government is backing Hamas’ to the current ‘they are all anti-Semite’.
What precisely does Vox want? A short video here, ah, fails to explain…
ECD looks at the fortunes of three recent additions to Spain’s cyber-news sites. ‘El Debate receives more traffic than El Periódico de España and The Objective combined’.
Statista brings us ‘The Internet ranking of most visitors sites per day in Spain in 2023’. Odd – I expected a few others to be featured… Google, Gmail, Twitter, Amazon and of course porn… Here’s the version of ‘most visited’ as found at El Economista. The most accurate – at first glance – seems to be Similarweb here.
Beware of reports of fake terrorist attempts in Spain says Maldita here, mentioning a few. Still, where would we be without Twitter, TikTok and WhatsApp? An article at Menéame here reveals who is behind this type of false news – but you will have guessed that already. The article ends with ‘…This type of manipulation has a clear purpose: to generate alarm in society and attack the government’.
‘Spain could replace 50,000 short flights a year with trains to save 300,000 tons of CO2. Eleven peninsular routes that transport around six million air-travellers a year have rail connections of less than four hours: flights produce on average 7.5 times more emissions per passenger per kilometre’. elDiario.es reports here. Then there’s another advantage – the train delivers one to the railway station, which, unlike the airport, is downtown. Thinking of those who are making a connection, a travel expert tells Preferente here that the Terminal 4 at Barajas airport in Madrid should have a high-speed rail link.
Can one safely drink tap water? The bottled-water people might warn one against it, but normally, the answer is ‘yes’. However, in some rural towns, the tap water is contaminated by nitrates from the nearby macro pig-farms says EPE here. Purinas is the word for animal-slops which need to be carefully disposed of (and usually are)…
‘Ebro vehicles will return to action with an electric truck named Ebro Pick-Up, as announced at the Barcelona Motor Show 2023. Now a manufacturer of electric vehicles, the company is making its business plan a reality, including a planned alliance with the Chinese Chery Automobile Co (wiki). The new company takes its name from the legendary Spanish Ebro marque, which began in 1954 and was dedicated to the production of buses, trucks, vans, all-terrain vehicles and tractors. Now it is committed to the production of models that run on clean energy and the reindustrialization of Spain through the manufacture of electric vehicles…’ More at El País here. The Ebro Electric Pickups (English) homepage is here.
‘The University of Málaga is working on a project to create the first four-legged police-robots, equipped with 360-degree cameras and artificial intelligence, to begin patrolling in the city centre, serving as support to the Municipal Police. The idea is that these robot dogs are a kind of "helpers" to the agents and that they can move through the streets "with a certain freedom" to recognize abnormal or problematic situations, such as a robbery, a crowd, a fall or a suspicious object, and transmit this information to the police’. Probably by the end of 2024 says 20Minutos here.
From The Guardian here: ‘Work by artists as diverse as Pablo Picasso, Ai Weiwei and the American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe will be brought together under one roof this week in what curators say is the world’s only museum devoted to art that has been censored. The Museu de l’Art Prohibit (Museum of Forbidden Art) in Barcelona (here) consists of about 200 works that have been denounced, attacked or removed from exhibitions...’ More pictures and a write-up are at El Mercurio Digital here.
Daniel at The Chorizo Chronicles recalls ‘When I was in my 20s, I wanted to do the Camino de Santiago. Not only did I want to do the Camino, but I’d also heard that the old-school way of doing it was to leave from your house, and walk from wherever you were all the way to Santiago de Compostela…’. An entertaining and informative article. Needless to say, in Daniel’s case, he didn’t get far.
The Galicians have their own typeface font as well… see it or make up a poster here.
From Piccavey here: ‘The magical city of Granada has a curious name. The word in Spanish means Pomegranate, exactly the same as the red fruit. This symbol appears on many things around the city, as well as its official flag and coat of arms. Also on grates, drainpipes and the stunning stonework pavements…’
Here’s the world number one song – according to Spotify: the 22 year-old Galician singer/songwriter Iñigo Quintero with Sí No Estás on YouTube.
El Heraldo enthuses about him here.
Business over Tapas returns on December 7th.