Belgian PM mulls trade sanctions against Israel over Gaza

UNRWA credit: Anas-Mohammed Shutterstock
UNRWA credit: Anas-Mohammed Shutterstock

Alexander De Croo told Belgian newspaper "Het Laatste Nieuws" that there are too many victims as a result of Israeli actions in Gaza.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has changed his position and is now considering imposing trade sanctions on Israel due to its operations in Gaza, Belgian newspaper "Het Laatste Nieuws" reports. The proposed sanctions would include prohibiting imports of products from West Bank settlements including olive oil, dates and wine.

Belgium is one of a group of EU countries pursuing a pro-Palestinian policy and has been highly critical of Israel since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, and has called, among other things, for the EU to reexamine the associated member agreement with Israel, to stop the sale of weapons to Israel and to call for an immediate ceasefire. Other members of the pro-Palestinian group include Ireland, Spain, Malta, Slovenia and Luxembourg. These countries are also promoting unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, contrary to the EU position.

However, the latest proposed step, if implemented, would be an escalation of measures against Israel. "Can we just do business with Israel as a leading trade partner?" De Croo asked at an event held by the Belgian newspaper, which published the comments this morning. "I don't think so". He justified the move and added. "In ten years they will tell us, you watched the events from the side and did nothing."

Just two months ago, De Croo rejected calls by the Belgian opposition to impose sanctions on Israel. But now he says that at the upcoming meeting of EU heads, he will try to promote sanctions such as a blanket ban on importing goods from Judea and Samaria. In particular, he mentioned the import of wine, dates and olive oil.

"Can't just stand by"

De Croo said that the reason for the sanctions is moral and stems from continued Israeli actions in Gaza and the situation in Judea and Samaria. "We cannot simply stand by and use bombastic words," he said. He explained that his change of position is due to the fact that there are "too many victims as a result of Israeli military operations".

Estimates are that such an initiative will fail at the EU level, among other things because of the opposition of central countries such as Germany and Italy, and with the support of pro-Israeli countries in the EU such as Austria and Hungary. The EU is Israel's biggest trading partner, buying 25% of Israeli exports and sending 33% of imports. Two months ago, Brussels municipality approved legislation prohibiting import of Israeli products produced in Judea and Samaria. Belgium has been one of the leading countries in the EU pushing to ban imports from the settlements.

De Croo said that if his latest initiative fails at the EU level, he will consider it as part of a voluntary coalition, which would presumably include other pro-Palestinian countries in the EU. "I don't discount any course of action," he told "Het Laatste Nieuws."

Belgium is Israel's fourth biggest trading partner in the EU, mainly due to trade in diamonds.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on May 6, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

UNRWA credit: Anas-Mohammed Shutterstock
UNRWA credit: Anas-Mohammed Shutterstock
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