Representatives of Israeli Embassy with FC Barcelona President
Representatives of Israeli Embassy with FC Barcelona PresidentIsraeli Embassy in Spain

Joan Laporta, president of the FC Barcelona soccer team, on Thursday sent a message of support for Israel, after Barcelona announced it would be cutting ties with Israel and ending its twin city agreement with Tel Aviv.

Laporta invited the representatives of the Israeli Embassy in Spain to the soccer match against Manchester United, and gave the Embassy representatives Barcelona shirts.

In a ceremony held before the game, Laporta emphasized the club's long-standing commitment to the excellent relations with the State of Israel and the people of Israel.

The Israeli diplomats presented Laporta with an Israeli flag and thanked him for years of support for Israel, friendship and joint activity in building a bridge between nations through sport.

The meeting comes a week after Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau stated that she is suspending all of the city’s ties with Israel, citing what she called “the repeated violations of human rights of the Palestinian population and non-compliance with United Nations resolutions.”

She added that Barcelona will maintain relations with “Israeli and Palestinian entities that continue to work for peace and against apartheid.”

Tourism Minister Haim Katz sent a letter to his Spanish counterpart, María Reyes Maroto Illera, asking her to reverse Barcelona’s decision.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) foreign affairs bureau, meanwhile, welcomed Barcelona’s decision.

Barcelona’s city council this week held a vote rejecting Colau’s stated intention last week to un-twin the city with Tel Aviv and cut ties with Israel, but the vote was only symbolic, as council members do not have the power to veto Colau’s decision.

Madrid’s mayor, José Luís Martínez-Almeida, last week offered to step up as a replacement for Barcelona.

In a letter to Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and during a press conference, Martínez-Almeida said the twinning is a “great opportunity to show Madrid’s commitment to strengthening relations with a democratic and a law-abiding state like Israel.”