Belgian MP criticises own government on Israeli TV
Theo Francken, an MP for opposition party N-VA, has hit out at the Belgian government during an interview on the Israeli channel i24News. "Our prime minister accuses you of war crimes in your country but does nothing at home to fight antisemitism," he said. "Theo Francken's statements are particularly damaging to himself," prime minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) responded on Sunday on VRT's De Zevende Dag.
Francken's criticism followed De Croo's visit to Israel earlier this week. This was "the drop in the emmer who is totally full [sic]", he said.
According to De Croo, the criticism was incorrect because action is being taken against antisemitism in Belgium, and suggested Francken was trying to win votes. "I see someone who reacts too much as a politician, whereas this is a moment where maybe you should react as a human being," he said.
On Wednesday, De Croo was in Israel, where he met with his counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu. He said he had received few answers about the situation in the West Bank, where aggression against Palestinians is also taking place. "This makes a two-state solution extremely difficult and goes against all previous agreements," he said.
'Support for terrorism'
The next day, he travelled to Rafah on the Egyptian-Gaza border, where he delivered a speech with Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez that was not well received in Israel. According to Netanyahu, De Croo failed to blame the terrorist group Hamas for the war. Israeli Foreign minister Eli Cohen added that the "false statements" of the Belgian and Spanish leaders showed "support for terrorism".
"They have not listened properly," De Croo said of the criticism. He later shared the speech he gave in Rafah on social media, showing that he was blaming Hamas. He also stressed Israel's right to defend itself.
"Israel must abide by international humanitarian law during military operations to stop terrorist attacks"
De Croo also reminded Israel of its responsibilities. He urged the Netanyahu government to exercise caution and called for an end to civilian casualties: "Israel must abide by international humanitarian law during military operations to stop terrorist attacks … The killing of civilians must stop."
Meanwhile, Francken said on X: "De Croo and Sanchez make no distinction between Israel, a mature democracy, Hamas, a terrorist organisation, and the autocracy of the Palestinian Authority. It is as if they are equally guilty."
© BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE