Last week, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo had a long exchange with Dr. Riyad al-Malki, Foreign Affairs Minister of the Palestinian Authority. The meeting allowed the ministers to address a whole series of bilateral questions, including development cooperation. Also the Middle East Peace Process and the Belgian priorities at the United Nations Security Council were discussed.
A number of decisions were announced during the meeting, including the partial reorientation of the Belgian development cooperation portfolio towards vocational training in order to accompany young Palestinians towards a job. The status of the Palestinian Representation in Brussels will be enhanced in order to facilitate the dialogue between Belgium and the Palestinian authorities, and to reflect the growing intensity of relations between the Palestinian Representation in Brussels and the European institutions. However, this doesn’t imply any change in the Belgian position with regards to the recognition of a Palestinian State. Our country will also contribute to the training of young Palestinian diplomats.
The Belgian ministers and their Palestinian colleague reiterated their support to a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is just, durable and respecting International Law. They agreed that it was essential to preserve the viability of a two-state Solution and condemned unilateral measures and acts of violence which could undermine this perspective.
The situation in Gaza was also discussed at length. The two parties agreed on the importance of intra-Palestinian reconciliation. To respond to urgent humanitarian needs, tackle the sufferings of the population, reduce tensions and avoid another conflict, a fundamental change of the situation in Gaza is crucial. Such a change should include the end of the blockade and the opening of border crossings while responding to the legitimate security concerns of all parties.
On the Belgian side, particular attention was drawn to the promotion and defense of human rights. Minister Reynders recalled his firm support to multilateralism and to the role of the United Nations in the negotiation of a durable peace in the Middle East. He also presented the priorities of Belgium during its mandate at the United Nations Security Council in 2019-2020.