Belgium will push for EU entry ban on extremist Israeli settlers
Belgium will push for a European entry ban on extremist Israeli settlers, the country's Foreign minister said on Thursday. A day earlier, prime minister Alexander De Croo announced that extremist West Bank settlers would be banned from entering Belgium.
The push for entry restrictions will be made at the Council of European Foreign ministers on Monday and at next week's European summit, Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib said.
"We will push the European Union to follow suit"
Earlier this week, the US government announced that it would impose visa restrictions on Israeli settlers involved in undermining peace, security or stability in the occupied West Bank.
Speaking at Ghent University on Wednesday, De Croo announced that Belgium would introduce a similar ban. "Extremist settlers in the West Bank will be banned from entering Belgium," he said.
"We will work with the United States on these sanction measures, and we will push the European Union to follow suit," he said at an international conference marking the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Violence between settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank has risen sharply since the 7 October attack on Israel by the Palestinian extremist organisation Hamas.
Since people can move freely within the EU, a national entry ban would be largely ineffective unless other member states followed suit. Lahbib will therefore raise the issue with her European counterparts, she said in a press release on Thursday.
"Minister Lahbib supports European discussions (...) to achieve a ban on entry into Belgium and the Union as soon as possible," the press release said.
The EU has no single position on the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Belgium has both condemned Hamas for the terrorist attack in Israel on 7 October and held Israel responsible for the many civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip.
Belgian Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib © PHOTO SIMON WOHLFAHRT / AFP