Spain’s PSOE-Sumar government continues arming Israel for Gaza genocide

A report of the Centre Delás per la Pau (Delàs Center for Peace Studies) has exposed that Spain is continuing to sell weapons to Israel amid the genocide in Gaza. It is a devastating exposure of the imperialist militarism and support for genocide of the Socialist Party (PSOE)-Sumar government, which had denied that it was aiding Israel.

People march during a protest in support of Palestinians and calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, in Barcelona, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. [AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti]

It also exposes the pseudo-left Podemos party, which left the PSOE-Sumar government last December. Podemos cynically claimed this would put pressure on the government to oppose the Gaza genocide. However, the Delàs Center’s revelations show that it sat in government with the PSOE as the Spanish state armed Israel in a war that has cost the lives of over 35,000 Palestinians, left over 60,000 injured and displaced 2 million people.

Last November, a Spanish weapons company exported ammunition to Israel worth €987,000, according to official data from the foreign trade portal Comex, according to an investigation by the Delàs Center carried out by researcher Alejandro Pozo.

The exported weaponry fell in the category of “bombs, grenades, torpedoes, mines, missiles, cartridges and other ammunition and projectiles, and their parts, including slugs, shot and wads for cartridges.” That is, it would be lethal ammunition whose sale was authorised, first, by the PSOE-Podemos government which ended in November 2023, and then continued by its successor, the PSOE-Sumar government.

Both governments falsely claimed they had suspended arms exports to Israel since October 7, when Israel responded to Palestinian militias’ attacks by launching a genocide in Gaza.

Last December, Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares responded to a parliamentary question by the Basque-nationalist EH Bildu party on arms sales to Israel by stating: “Since October 7, there have been no Spanish arms export operations to Israel … Therefore, don’t worry, that’s not going to happen.” On January 23, he told Cadena Ser radio: “Since October 7, 2023, there has been no arms sales operation to Israel.” On January 29, Albares repeated this to the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission.

Official figures, however, exposed this as a lie. According to the Delàs researcher, “The Comex portal shows that in November 2023 Spain was the largest exporter of [weapons] material to Israel in the European Union, representing 52 percent of the total exports of the European Union.”

The government cynically responded to the revelations with the excuse that these were weapons authorised for export before October 7. Asked by online newspaper Eldiario.es, the Secretary of State for Commerce said that the export “corresponds to licenses authorised before October 7” and contains “material for tests or demonstrations, in no case for final use or capable of being used in the conflict.”

The next day they recontacted the newspaper to specify that what had been sent was “medium caliber non-explosive ammunition.”

Successive Spanish governments could have revoked these authorisations, but did not, making them complicit in the Israeli genocide against Palestinians. Moreover, as Delàs researcher Pozo told Público, it is impossible to verify that these export authorisations were granted before October 7.

Export decisions implicate the entire government. They are debated in the Interministerial Board of Defense and Dual Use, which includes representatives of the Ministries of Economy and Finance, Defense, Interior, Presidency and Foreign Affairs. Its deliberations are not public and are protected by the Official Secrets Act, a law passed under fascist general Francisco Franco to prevent public scrutiny. They cannot even be obtained by a parliamentary request.

Furthermore, according to the same investigation, not only the authorisation of exports has continued, but also weapons imports from Israel. Since October 7, Spain acquired €705 million in products from the Israeli company Elbit Systems, which sells and advertises its products under the slogan “tested in combat.” These weapons’ use by Israel makes them particularly attractive for the Spanish army.

In a contract signed in November alone, Spain purchased Israeli Spike LR2 missiles for €287.5 million.

Definite political conclusions must be drawn from the support of the PSOE-Podemos and PSOE-Sumar governments to Israel’s genocide.

The fight against genocide in Gaza—part of an expanding imperialist war encompassing NATO’s war against Russia in Ukraine and military confrontation against China—can only be carried out by mobilizing the working class politically against parties like the PSOE, Sumar, and Podemos. A revolutionary, international movement for socialism must be built in the working class, against middle class parties of war and capitalist government like Podemos and Sumar. It can only proceed as a movement fighting to bring the working class to power in Spain and internationally.

Both Sumar and Podemos have cynically intervened to cover their backs. Sumar’s spokesperson in parliament, former Podemos co-founder Íñigo Errejón, pledged to seek answers in parliament. “The embargo on the sale of weapons has to be complete and permanent,” he said. “We must stop the genocide in Gaza,” he claimed on X, after the news broke directly implicating Sumar in genocide.

Like Podemos in the last government, Sumar now specialises in making empty protests against its own government’s policy to obscure its role as a member of an imperialist government backing Israeli genocide and NATO’s war on Russia in Ukraine.

Sumar’s spokesperson and Minister of Culture, Ernest Urtasun, said Sumar contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs José Manuel Albares, to state that “this cannot happen again.” But Urtasun himself is a well-known warmonger. Last year, before joining the government, he showed his pro-NATO credentials by advocating sending weapons and tanks to Ukraine to fight Russia.

Similarly, Podemos Organization Secretary Pablo Fernández, said this news “reveals the hypocrisy and incoherence of the PSOE,” which they accuse of “lying” and “deliberately hiding” that the Spanish government “continues to buy weapons from Israel.” He added that the government “continues to finance the Genocide from Israel to Palestine.”

But Podemos is lying and hiding the facts no less than the PSOE. Podemos ruled with the PSOE up to November 23, as the government continued to send weapons to Israel which are now being used to kill Palestinians. Moreover, while Podemos was nominally opposing the genocide, its own government sent Spanish frigate Méndez Núñez and military supply ship Patiño to join the battle group of the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier.

The American carrier was deployed in the eastern Mediterranean to support the Israeli war, threatening to bomb forces in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq or Iran that might intervene militarily to assist Gaza.

Moreover, under Podemos, the weapons trade between Spain and Israel flourished. Between 2020 and 2022, Israel imported €140 million in weaponry, while Spain spent hundreds of millions buying weapons with the “combat-tested” mark from Israel.

Podemos is now covering for the PSOE-Sumar government. Having left the government, it is intervening in the mass anti-genocide protests to channel them back behind this blood-soaked government. It calls for the PSOE-Sumar government to “take measures” like arms embargos and sanctions on Israel and to break diplomatic relations with the country. Yet all the parties involved, PSOE and Sumar in government and Podemos outside, are implicated in the genocide.

Podemos, moreover, has refused to use its five lawmakers to threaten to bring down the PSOE-Sumar government which enjoys a thin majority only thanks to Podemos.

The decisive task facing workers and youth in Spain is developing a political revolt against the PSOE-Sumar government and its allied union bureaucracies and pseudo-left satellites. This requires building a powerful international anti-war movement in the working class. It also requires building a Trotskyist party in the working class to oppose reactionary capitalist governments like the PSOE-Sumar coalition, that is, building sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International in Spain and internationally.