Recognition of Palestinian state will come, says Belgian Foreign minister

Belgian Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib believes that the Palestinian territories will one day be officially recognised. She said this on Tuesday during a three-day working visit to the Middle East, where she will advocate an immediate ceasefire, the release of hostages and a two-state solution.

Four EU member states - Ireland, Spain, Slovenia and Malta - issued a joint statement on Friday saying they were ready to recognise the Palestinian state "if it can make a positive contribution and if the conditions are right". Belgium was not among them, but according to Lahbib its position is very much in line with the position.

Internal division

"Recognition will come, of course, but recognition alone is not enough," she said. For Belgium, it must be accompanied by a peace process and the creation of a viable Palestinian state comprising the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem under the authority of a single legitimate authority. But this issue "currently divides the European Union", she said.

Asked about a possible import ban on goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, she did not give a definitive answer. Belgium could not act alone in this matter, she said, because of the European single market.

Working visit

This week, Lahbib will visit Ramallah in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. There, she will call for an immediate ceasefire, the release of the hostages and for a two-state solution. She says there is still hope for a ceasefire before the end of Ramadan in April. She will also reiterate that Belgium is available to organise a preparatory peace conference.

Palestine is officially recognised by more than 130 countries, including 10 EU member states. Several Central European countries recognised Palestine when they were still part of the Soviet Union. In 2014, Sweden became the first country to recognise Palestine while part of the EU.



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