Belgium condemns illegal Israeli colonies in West Bank, says Foreign minister

Belgian Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib is on the second day of a working visit to the Middle East. On Wednesday she met Israeli officials, and on Thursday she met Palestinians. Lahbib has made it clear that Belgium condemns the colonies of Israeli settlers in the Palestinian territories.

On Thursday morning, Lahbib visited Mazra'ah Al Qibliyah, a village in the West Bank, where a resident described how Israeli settlers forced him to leave his home. "On the first day, they cut off the water and electricity. On the second day, they entered my house and forced me to leave."

"Belgium condemns settlements and has decided to impose sanctions on violent settlers," said Lahbib. "According to international law, these settlements are illegal." Since the attacks by the Palestinian terrorist movement Hamas on 7 October, 23 new outposts have been built, the minister added, and an average of four or five cases of aggression against Palestinians are reported every day.

"Belgium condemns settlements and has decided to impose sanctions on violent settlers"

Last week, under the Belgian EU presidency, European foreign ministers decided to impose sanctions on violent Israeli settlers. The sanctions include a travel ban and the freezing of assets on European soil. Belgium also funds the West Bank Protection Cluster, which provides aid to Palestinians.

Potential import ban

An import ban on products produced in illegal Israeli settlements is under discussion. Belgium continues to argue for a European decision and respect for World Trade Organisation rules. According to diplomatic sources, the volume of these products is extremely small.

Later on Thursday, Lahbib will have a bilateral meeting with her Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki and outgoing prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. A meeting with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled for the evening.



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