Belgian Development minister criticises Germany's stance on Israel-Palestine conflict

Belgium's minister for Development Cooperation criticised Germany's stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Wednesday. "It is a crucial question for our German friends: are you really going to be on the wrong side of history twice?" she said in an interview.

In an interview with Knack magazine, Caroline Gennez took issue with Germany's stance on the conflict within the EU, saying the country hardly tolerates criticism of Israel.

"I have always admired Germany for its ability to look its own war past in the eye," she said. "So it is hard to understand why this same Germany should be so taken in by this Israeli government, which is pursuing a shameless policy of colonisation," Gennez said.

Violating international law

Gennez defended Belgium's stance on the conflict, which has been one of the most vocal in Europe in condemning the violence in Gaza as disproportionate and calling for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Gennez, a member of the Flemish socialist party Vooruit, said Belgian development cooperation "takes the side of the civilian victims". 

"Hamas has killed, kidnapped or raped 1,200 Israelis. This is a violation of international law and the laws of war," she said. "But Israel, as an occupying power, has also been violating international law in the West Bank and Gaza for years. Ordinary people are always the victims."

Disproportionate violence

No European member state disputes Israel's right to exist, Gennez said, "but this does not mean that we should stand idly by in the face of so much disproportionate violence against a civilian population, even in retaliation for an act of terrorism".

"It is a crucial question for our German friends: are you really going to be on the wrong side of history twice?" said Gennez. "Are we still going to stand by and watch if ethnic cleansing were to take place? Surely that was what 'nie wieder' meant?"

Gennez added that she hoped Germans would "look deep into their own hearts, unburdened by their own historical traumas". "One should always try to transcend trauma, no matter how difficult it is," she said.


Caroline Gennez, Belgian minister for Development Cooperation © BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE

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