Belgian deputy cabinet minister: Jerusalem is Israel’s capital

Philippe De Backer goes against his country’s official position on Jerusalem in an interview with a Jewish magazine.

By Batya Jerenberg,  World Israel News

In an interview published Thursday in Joods Actueel, an Antwerp-based Jewish monthly, Belgian government official Philippe De Backer stated that Jerusalem’s status is a matter of “reality.”

“There is no doubt that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” said the Belgian Secretary of State for Combating Social Fraud, Privacy and the North Sea in the interview. “It’s clear: it’s reality. There’s no discussion on this issue. But we’re in a political context where Europe sees Jerusalem as subject to negotiations toward a two-state solution.”

The Flemish liberal’s conciliatory words stand in stark contrast to those of his prime minister, Charles Michel, who condemned US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December.

De Backer also staunchly defended the Jewish state when asked for his opinion on boycotts against Israel.

“There is only one state in the world whose right to exist is attacked and we must express our opposition,” he stated firmly. “Israel has all the right to exist!”

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De Backer’s interview covered a range of subjects of interest to the Jewish community, including the concern that circumcision may be banned just as ritual slaughter was prohibited by the Wallonia and Flemish regions’ parliaments as of 2019. The deputy cabinet minister assured the magazine that “nothing will change” regarding circumcision. He added that if kosher slaughter will actually be prohibited in the country, the government will find solutions such as allowing the import of such meat from abroad.

The law has been challenged in federal court by an umbrella group of Jewish organizations as violating Jewish citizens’ basic right to freedom of religion.