Saturday, 29 Feb 2020 - 4 of Adar, 5780

Israel’s ambassador to Belgium summoned to the Belgian foreign ministry following comments on social media about Belgium’s invitation of terror-linked NGO official at the UN Security Council

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On Thursday, the Belgian chargé d’affaires in Israel Pascal Buffin was summoned to the Israeli foreign ministry for a ‘’reprimand over moves the country has made as a member of the UN Security Council, in particular the fact that Belgium, which is presiding over the United Nations Security Council since February, has invited Brad Parker, a senior official of the NGO Defense for Children – Palestine (DCI-P) to brief the council’s members.

According to Israel, this group has links with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a group listed as terrorist by the US, the European Union, Canada and Israel.

Contacted by European Jewish Press, the Belgian foreign minIstry spokesperson explained that the reason behind the invitation made to Parker to speak at the Security Council was the fact that Belgium currently chairs the New York task force on children in armed conflicts, which is a subsidiary body of the United Nations Security Council.

 

Israel’s ambassador to Belgium, Emmanuel Nahshon, was summoned to the Belgian foreign ministry Friday morning following ‘’harsh’’ comments made on social media about the invitation addressed by Belgium to an NGO official suspected of links to a terror group to speak at a session of the United Nations Security Council.

‘’We are very surprised, astonished and even outraged by the comments made in articles but mainly on social media on this issue,’’ a Belgian foreign ministry spokesperson told the European Jewish Press (EJP). ‘’We have  summoned the Ambassador of Israel this morning to express this astonishment because he retweeted certain tweets while he has as Ambassador the official capacity of representing the State of Israel in Belgium.’’ ‘’We expressed our very clear disagreement with that both on substance and form,” the spoksperson, Arnaud Gaspart, said.

On Thursday, the Belgian chargé d’affaires in Israel Pascal Buffin was summoned to the Israeli foreign ministry for a ‘’reprimand over moves the country has made as a member of the UN Security Council, in particular the fact that Belgium, which is presiding over the United Nations Security Council since February, has invited Brad Parker, a senior official of the NGO Defense for Children – Palestine (DCI-P) to brief the council’s members.

DCI-P, which calls itself an organization defending the human rights of Palestinian children and alleges Israel is committing war crimes, supports the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment  and Sanctions) movement.

According to Israel, this group has links with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a group listed as terrorist by the US, the European Union, Canada and Israel.

Israeli officials reacted harshly to the invitation made by Belgium to Parker.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres calling DCI-P “an arm of the PFLP in order to enact diplomatic terror against Israel…A place that promotes peace and security in the world has no room for people like Parker.”

“Belgium is continuing to adopt an anti-Israel line in the UN, but must know that it will have a price. Israel’s denigrators will enter a battle they weren’t looking for,” he added.

‘’Belgium has positioned itself as one of the Security Council member states most hostile toward Israel,’’ the Israeli foreign minuistry spokesperson Lior Hayat said.

In a tweet, the Israeli ambassador to Belgium wrote ‘’unfortunately Belgium has chosen to invite terror supporters to a Security Council debate. This is extremely disappointing and we will express our outrage in the strongest terms.’’

Contacted by European Jewish Press, the Belgian foreign minIstry spokesperson explained that the reason behind the invitation made to Parker to speak at the Security Council was the fact that Belgium currently chairs the New York task force on children in armed conflicts, which is a subsidiary body of the United Nations Security Council.

‘’The fate of children in armed conflicts is a traditional priority of Belgian diplomacy. We also attach great importance to the participation of civil society in the United Nations Security Council to increase transparency,’’ the spokesperson said.

He added: ‘’We have taken note of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ comments regarding the choice of the NGO Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P). These comments were communicated cordially yesterday by Israeli colleagues at the ministry. Of course we do not entirely agree with certain observations that were made. For example, we note that this NGO has consultative status in various United Nations bodies such as ECOSOC, UNICEF, UNESCO, but also in the Council of Europe. We are always open to dialogue of course.’’

The spokesperson also mentioned that Belgium ‘’attaches great importance to having good relations with Israel.’’ ‘’We absolutely want to maintain a frank and open dialogue as it is the case between good friends,’’ he said.

‘’On this particular subject, we informed the Israeli side well in advance that we were actually going to invite an NGO. But just because we are good friends doesn’t mean we should always have the same opinion. Belgium has its own opinion which does not always correspond to that of Israel on certain points of view,’’ the Belgian spokesperson added.

Asked by EJP about the findings of a recent report by Jerusalem-based watchdog group NGO Monitor that gave details about the fact that numerous DCI-P officials are members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the spokesperson said he has no official comment on this. ‘’It would be necessary to verify the basis of these accusations. We must always make a distinction between allegations and evidence. I have no comment except that the NGO still has consultative status in several UN bodies. We are talking about an invitation to a working group which is also part of the UN organizations.’’

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