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Belgium is on the right track, but Europe has failed Palestine

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30.11.2021

The Belgian government's decision on 25 November to label products made in illegal Israeli Jewish settlements is welcome, although it will ultimately prove ineffectual.

Belgium has historically shown solidarity with Palestine if compared to other European countries, for example, Britain, Germany and France. From the cancellation of trade missions to Israel to the effusive support by Belgian civil society, artists, scholars and ordinary people, Belgium has demonstrated the desire to play a constructive role in ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Obviously, it will take more than symbolic solidarity and political statements to force Israel to respect international law, to dismantle apartheid, end the military occupation and grant Palestinians their freedom.

Belgium's dilemma is the same across Europe. Whereas European governments insist on the centrality of the questions of democracy, human rights and international law in their dealings with Israel, they fail to carry out any meaningful steps to ensure Israel complies with declared European Union policies.

OPINION: As Israel destroys EU projects in Palestine, European foreign policy remains impotent

Belgium's decision to differentiate between Israeli products made in Israel and those made in illegal Jewish settlements is not predicated on Brussels' own legal frame of reference, but on several EU landmark decisions in this regard. For example, in November 2015, the EU issued new guidelines to ensure illegal settlement products are being labelled as such. In January 2016, the EU had reportedly 'reinforced' its position that such products must be clearly labelled.

However, little labelling has taken place since, a reality that compelled EU citizens, with the support of various civil society organisations, to challenge the........

© Middle East Monitor


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