De Croo: Belgium remains part of EU group seeking to recognise Palestine

Belgium remains part of the group of EU countries calling for the recognition of the Palestinian state, prime minister Alexander De Croo reiterated in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

De Croo was correcting a statement made by Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib, who said earlier this week that the prime minister had decided at the last European Council to withdraw Belgium from a group of EU countries that want to recognise Palestine. The group, which is led by Spain and includes Ireland and Slovenia, wants to kickstart a broader initiative supported by the entire EU.

De Croo insisted on Thursday that Belgium remained part of that group. He added, however, that Belgium had not signed the group's joint declaration at the last EU summit. Lahbib's office later said this was the point she had tried to make this week.

Broader peace process

As the current holder of the EU presidency, it is Belgium's role to rally as many countries as possible around a common position, De Croo said. It is "the position of many countries" that recognition of Palestine should be part of a broader peace process with political reforms, including Belgium's.

"We have been calling for a permanent two-state solution from day one. Hamas, which is a terrorist organisation, cannot be part of that solution. There must be reasonable and responsible people on both sides of the table," said De Croo. He added that Belgium wants to work on a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly that would make such a solution possible.

"Belgium will recognise Palestine," Lahbib said on Thursday. "This is the direction in which history is going."



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