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"Relations between Belgium and Israel are not good - but they are repairable" Israeli Ambassador tells Belgian MPs

Israel's ambassador to Belgium Emmanuel Nahshon

The Belgian federal parliament

External Relations Committee chair Els Van Hoof MP

Israeli ambassador issues invitation to Belgian MPs to visit Israel to improve "transparency, goodwill and friendship" between the two countries.

What we would like to see in the relations between Israel and Belgium is more transparency, goodwill, and friendship.”
— HE Emmanuel Nahshon, Ambassador of Israel to Belgium

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, January 26, 2022 / -- Israel's ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium Emmanuel Nahshon stated in a meeting on January 25th, of the federal parliamentary committee on external relations, that he hoped that relations between the two countries would improve following a difficult few years. He reminded MPs that last year there had been “a demonstration in the heart of Brussels at which were present some of the MPs here today, and where Islamist militants called to slaughter the Jews and to destroy the State of Israel”.

Mr Nahshon said that following indiscriminate rocket attack from Gaza last May, many European countries had expressed their solidarity by flying the Israeli flag from government buildings. But not Belgium, where “what we finally received was a good dose of indifference”. “I must admit that it surprised us a little, the inability or lack of will of Belgium to demonstrate its friendship with Israel while it was the victim of attack” he said.

The ambassador rejected the designation by some MPs of Israel as an ‘apartheid’ state, explaining that Arabs in Israel had full rights as citizens. Arabs are an integral part of the coalition government, he said, and “have more and more responsibilities, which is very good”.

The ‘Abraham Accords’ were further evidence of Israel’s desire to reach out to and partner with Arab communities and countries, he continued. What is happening is the shaping of “a new Middle East which is a Middle East of cooperation, where there is of course a place for the Palestinians”.

The new Middle East is evolving through dialogue, Mr Nahshon claimed, so it was “a pity that my Palestinian counterpart has not joined us today to share this discussion. He went on "I have dialogue with half of the Arab ambassadors here in Brussels, with whom I now meet regularly.”

Noting that many Arab countries were dissociating themselves from the Palestinian Authority, even though like Israel they want to see Palestinians achieve self-determination, “if the Palestinians really have a chance to reach the stage of independence it will be through dialogue with Israel and that is the only way to succeed”.

Whereas “relations between Israel and Belgium are not in good shape, I tell you clearly that relations between Israel and Belgium are repairable” he said. “So we invite you to be in contact with us and to have this dialogue which in my opinion will be helpful. What we would like to see in the relations between Israel and Belgium is more transparency, goodwill, and friendship”.

Mr Nahshon invited members of the committee to visit Israel to meet with various people and organisations as a means of kick-starting dialogue between Belgium and Israel. The chair of the committee Els Van Hoof said that the invitation was “an excellent idea”, adding “Belgium's expectations are not always easy and there are points on which we do not agree but I believe that they must absolutely not prevent dialogue.”

Celia De Coster
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