BRUSSELS (VINnews) — The Belgian government ordered various organizations it funds to promote anti-Israel campaigns and to “mitigate the influence of pro-Israel voices.” A document published on Israel’s Army Radio claimed that the organizations, which are active among Palestinians, are obligated to promote these goals in return for grants received from the Belgian government.
NGO Monitor, an organization which monitors the activities of NGO’s worldwide, reports that according to Belgian law, the government must approve a Joint Strategic Framework (JSF) in order to distribute foreign development assistance in different parts of the world. The 2017-2021 JSF for Belgian aid to Palestinians approved by the Belgian parliament calls for strengthening “local CSOs [civil society organizations] to increase their advocacy efforts towards the European institutions and member states, promoting respect for international law and mitigating the influence of pro-Israel voices.”
The JSF also includes a commitment by the organizations to “improve common advocacy work on the Belgian and European level through the Middle East Platform, common advocacy campaigns such as Made in Illegality, actions around 50 years of occupation (2017).” Made in Illegality calls on Belgium, France and the EU to end economic relations with the “settlements.” The campaign’s demands also include banning imports of all “settlement products,” discouraging Belgian companies “from investing in settlements,” and preparing information for travelers “to ensure that they avoid supporting companies and tourist sites that are located in the settlements.”
Last week the Belgian parliament unanimously adopted a proposal to implement sanctions against Israel if it declares unilateral sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria.
The proposal calls for widespread economic sanctions in Europe against Israel. The Brussels parliament even tried to vote on recognition of a Palestinian state but at the last minute the hearing was postponed due to legal issues.
The parliament decision against “Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian lands” passed by 101 in favor and 39 abstentions. Not one member opposed the decision.
The decision calls on Brussels to “fulfill an active role in establishing a coalition of EU member states which will initiate action against Israel if it declares sovereignty in the West Bank region.”
However any foreign policy actions initiated by the EU require unanimous agreement of all of its 27 member states before any significant sanctions can be passed against Israel. This is unlikely due to Israel’s close ties with a number of these countries including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria.