The trade mission would have taken place from the 8th to the 11th of December, will not go forward, due to criticism from the political opposition and several activist organizations, leading to its discontinuation, the Palestine News Network (PNN) reported.
The delegation would have consisted of representatives from the Walloon and Brussels governments, which are separate political entities in Belgium, and numerous companies from the respective regions.
The Walloon government had already withdrawn from the delegation at an earlier stage, but now the Brussels government has done the same, effectively leaving the rest of the mission without political representation.
In the last couple of weeks, the general criticism towards the trade mission has grown. Specifically Israel’s disregard for international agreements concerning the blockade of the Gaza Strip, sparked the opposition’s distaste for the mission.
“We’re talking about participating in the Israeli colonization policy,”
said Stéphanie Koplowicz, member of the Flemish left-wing PVDA-party.
“The UN Human Rights Comittee has complained that over 200 companies do business in these illegal settlements. Does the government want to encourage Brussels’ companies to participate in this?”
Violations of the Geneva Convention
Former Belgian prime minister, Elio Di Rupo, of the Walloon socialist Party stated that the reason for the withdrawal from the trade mission was
“the lack of progress in the peace process, the lack of progress on the ground and the violations of important parts of the Geneva Convention by Israel”.
The Brussels government is now following this line of reasoning.
Joel Rubinfeld, a former leader of Belgian Jewry and president of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, said the move was discriminatory in light of Belgium’s trade relations with nations accused of major human rights violations, including Iran and China.
Companies who were going to partake in the mission can still travel to the Middle-East on their own, however, they will have to cover their own expenses.
Edited for IMEMC: Ali Salam