Belgium upgrades Palestinian mission in Brussels

Belgium’s Foreign Minister Didier Reynders announced the “enhanced status” of the Palestinian mission in Brussels.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders announced through his Twitter feed Thursday the upgrading of the Palestinian Authority (PA) mission in his country’s capital.

After meeting Wednesday with Riad Malki, his PA counterpart, Reynders tweeted that they “reviewed the Belgium-Palestine relationship,” including “new priorities for development cooperation, training of diplomats, enhanced status for the Palestinian Mission in Brussels.”

Currently, the PA mission in Brussels is classified as a Representative Office. The Belgians provided no further details about the upgrade.

In 2014 it was reported in Belgium’s Le Soir that the government had agreed in principle to recognize Palestinian statehood “at a moment deemed appropriate.”

That moment may now be at hand. Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that the PA envoy to Brussels and the European Union (EU) stated that the Belgians have “promised to consider recognition of the State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

This would contradict official EU policy. Brussels is considered the de facto capital of the EU.

Belgium will also become a rotating member of the United Nations Security Council in two months’ time, for 2019-2020, which strengthens the country’s role in Middle East diplomacy.

“As Belgium joins the Security Council, long and rich discussion with Riad Malki of Palestine on ways to relaunch a peace process toward a common sustainable future for two states, Israel and Palestine, as well as on the role of the EU & the UN,” Reynders said in another tweet, elaborating on his country’s motive that appears to challenge U.S. President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” plan for the Middle East.

Belgium has also talked tough with the PA. In September, for instance, its Ministry of Education suspended funding for Palestinian schools named after Arabs who murdered dozens of Israelis in terror attacks.