Belgium FM urges clear EU role in peace process, immediate action in Gaza

Mohamed Badereldin, Monday 22 Apr 2024

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Labib emphasised the need for the European Union (EU) to assert itself clearly in the negotiation process, calling for a preparatory conference to address the escalating situation in Gaza.

Belgium Foreign Minster
Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs Hadja Lahbib. AFP

Calls for a ceasefire, the release of hostages, and the delivery of aid to Gaza are not enough to address the ongoing violence, she stressed.

"The killing continues, and we must not forget what is happening in Gaza at the moment because there is a humanitarian tragedy that must be stopped," Labib added.

The US should not be the only player in Gaza

Labib expressed concern about the US becoming the sole player in Gaza. She also addressed the issue of violent Israeli settlers, stating that sanctions alone are insufficient.

She emphasized the need to impose sanctions on those who arm and defend the settlers.

On Friday, the EU and US imposed sanctions on extremist Israeli settlers and settler groups over violence against the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

The EU put two "radical" organisations, Lehava and the Hilltop Youth, on its asset freeze and visa blacklist for their attacks on Palestinians.

The freeze included Hilltop Youth leaders Meir Ettinger and Elisha Yered, along with settlers Neria Ben Pazi and Yinon Levi.

The US Treasury imposed sanctions on two organizations on Friday for fundraising on behalf of two violent Israeli extremists in the West Bank.

The two groups, Mount Hebron Fund and Shlom Asiraich, established crowdfunding campaigns to raise thousands of dollars for Yinon Levi and David Chai Chasdai respectively. The two men were sanctioned by the US in February under a new executive order targeting perpetrators of violence in the West Bank. 

Settler violence in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, has surged over the past year, before the eruption of the Israeli war on Gaza.

As part of a systematic policy led and supported by right-wing ministers in the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, terrorist settlers from West Bank settlements have been launching racist attacks and deadly assaults against Palestinian villages and individuals from the north to the south of the West Bank.

Palestine should be recognized as a full state

Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Labib stated that recognizing a Palestinian state is a decisive step towards a two-state solution.

She affirmed Belgium's readiness to welcome any initiative concerning the recognition of a Palestinian state.

On Thursday, the US spoiled a long-shot Palestinian bid for full United Nations membership, vetoing a UN Security Council measure despite growing international distress over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The move by Israel's key ally was expected ahead of the vote, taking place more than six months into Israel's war on the besieged Palestinian territory.

Twelve countries voted in favour of the draft resolution recommending full Palestinian membership.

Britain and Switzerland abstained.

US allies France, Japan, and South Korea supported the resolution.

The strong support the Palestinians received reflects not only the growing number of countries recognizing their statehood, but the global support for Palestinians facing a humanitarian crisis caused by the Israeli war in Gaza, now in its seventh month.

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