Israel and Spain have maintained diplomatic ties since 1986. Israel has an embassy in Madrid. Spain has an embassy in Tel Aviv, an honorary consulate in Haifa and a General Consulate in Jerusalem, which is regarded as diplomatic missions to the city of Jerusalem (including both West and East Jerusalem), Gaza and the territories of the West Bank. In additions to both countries being member states of the United Nations, both countries are members of the Union for the Mediterranean. The two countries are also involved with various programmes and agreements through the European Union, of which Spain is a member, and its relations with Israel.
Francoist Spain did not recognize Israel citing an international conspiracy of Jews and Freemasons against Spain, the "contubernio judeo-masónico". In 1949, the State of Israel voted against lifting sanctions against Spain in the United Nations General Assembly due to the Francoist regime's sympathy and material support for the Axis Powers. Despite the lack of diplomatic ties, the Franco government helped Jewish emigration from Morocco in the 1960s and, during the Six-Day War in 1967, issued Laissez-Passer documents to Egyptian Jews, enabling them to emigrate.
The pro-Arab dialectic of the previous Francoist regime had created a stance that was very difficult to overcome even after the transition to democracy. The first Spanish government after caudillo Franco's death, headed by Adolfo Suárez, declared that it would not recognize Israel unless it withdrew from the occupied territories and allowed the creation of a Palestinian homeland.
Following Suárez's resignation in 1982, the new President of the Government of Spain Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo seemed inclined to inaugurate relations between Spain and Israel but this had to wait for the next government due to the pro-Arab stance of the Foreign Minister José Pedro Pérez-Llorca, which argued against recognition as a response to Israel's links to the Sabra and Shatila massacre, and fears of an oil embargo as reprisal by Arab countries. Pérez-Llorca later became an advisor for Kuwait Petroleum.
Nevertheless, small steps were taken towards rapproachment, including informal contacts by Samuel Hadas, the Israeli representative to the United Nations World Tourism Organization based in Madrid. Hadas, a member of the Israeli Labor Party, was responsible for the creation of a Spanish Friends of Israel association and a dialogue group that included several Spanish Socialist Workers Party members of parliament, such as Enrique Múgica Herzog, as well as members of the ruling party, UCD.
With a view to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel, President of the Government Felipe González who had been elected on a Socialist platform three years earlier, sent a personal letter to secretary general of the Arab League, Chedli Klibi, on 25 April 1985, advising him of Spain's plans. Following Operation Wooden Leg, the Spanish Government issued a strong condemnation of the attack, putting a temporary hold to the recognition process. Further conversations with the Ambassadors from Arab states in Madrid followed in January next year, advising them of Spain forthcoming plans. Both countries established diplomatic relations on 17 January 1986. Samuel Hadas was named Israel Ambassador in Madrid. Spain had joined the European Economic Community on 1 January. Soon after, a representative office for the PLO opened in Madrid "as evidence of Spain traditional policy of friendship with the Palestinian people and as an instrument to achieve a lasting, just and global solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict".
In 2000, Spain lifted its veto on Israel's admission to the Western European Group of the United Nations, on a basis of permanent renewal of temporary full membership, ending Israel administrative limbo, as its membership in the Asian Group had been withheld due to the large majority of Muslim countries in the Asian block opposing.
In October 2011, Spanish Crown Prince Felipe and his wife, Princess Letizia, arrived in Israel for a two-day state visit to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and meet with local scientists.
Religious and cultural ties
Many Israelis are Sephardi Jews, culturally associated with the Iberian Peninsula from where Jews were expelled in the late-fifteenth century. Many Israelis are also of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish extraction from before the expulsion of Jews from the Iberian peninsula. Some Israelis live in Spain today, and there is also a small contemporary Spanish Jews community. Many Spanish people are also of converso or Marrano origin, with a recent study estimating the figure to be as high as 20%. An Israeli newspaper, Maariv, noted that according to José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's own admission, his family is of Jewish descent, probably from a family of Marranos.
In honor of the 25th anniversary of diplomatic and cultural relations between Spain and Israel, the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid loaned a painting by El Greco to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. A special evening was held in the presence of Yitzhak Navon, the fifth President of the State of Israel and Alvaro Iranzo Gutierrez, ambassador of Spain in Israel.
In 2010, bilateral trade totaled 1.69 billion euros, with 853 million euros of Israeli exports to Spain and 836 million euros of Spanish imports to Israel. José Ranero, the economic and commercial advisor at the Spanish Embassy, said he looked forward to more joint projects, especially in technology.
- Consulado de España en Jerusalén Archived 2011-11-08 at the Wayback Machine, Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación de España (in Spanish)
- Bautista Delgado 2009, pp. 299–316
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- Bautista Delgado 2009, pp. 309–310
- NB: President of the Government of Spain is the official English denomination for the head of government, a figure known as in some countries Prime Minister
- Pérez-Llorca had been a member of the Popular Liberation Front in his youth, a New Left Pre-Trotskyist of Third-Worldist "Anti-imperialist" ideology "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-05-25. Retrieved 2011-06-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Bautista Delgado 2009, p. 311
- Hadas 2007, p. 48
- José María Vals (February 27, 2006). "Consejeros poco independientes" [Little independent directors]. tiempodehoy.com (in Spanish) (1806).
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- Economic, commercial ties with Spain continue to shine
- "Sefardíes y moriscos siguen aquí. El 30% de los españoles tiene huella genética de su origen judío o magrebí" (in Spanish). El País. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
- "Zapatero, a un diario israelí: 'Antisemitismo había con Franco'" (in Spanish). El Mundo. Retrieved 2011-07-17.
- Visiting Masterpiece from the Prado Museum, Madrid
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- Bautista Delgado, Juan (2009). "From Ostracism to a Leading Role: Spain's Foreign Policy Towards the Middle East Since 1939". In Sanford R. Silverburg (ed.). Palestine and International Law: Essays on Politics and Economics. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-4248-5.
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- Israeli embassy in Madrid (in Spanish)
- Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs about relations with Israel (in Spanish)
- Spanish embassy in Tel Aviv (in Hebrew) (in Spanish)