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Luxembourg, Belgium seek impactful, 'useful' recognition of Palestinian statehood

Luxembourg and Belgium are seeking a more impactful and “useful” recognition of Palestinian statehood, its foreign ministers said Monday. 

“What changed since the recognition of Palestine as a state by three European countries?” Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Xavier Bettel told reporters at the doorstep of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, referring to Spain, Ireland and Norway, which said they would formally recognize a Palestinian state on May 28.

He stressed the need for an international movement of recognition, including Asian and Latin American countries, to get more impact.

“This could have more impact, so I prefer to wait a bit more. We will do it, we will do it, because Palestine has the right to be recognized. But I think the best moment -- and it’s not the condition of having 10 or 15 (countries), but to have something international – (is when) maybe the Israelis will realize that it is not only one or two European countries, but it is the world who considers that Palestine has a right. That’s different,” Bettel added.

He also noted that the EU must find unanimity and solutions to make rulings by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) respected. Otherwise, the bloc gives the image of a “dog that barks but does not bite.”

“We need to be very honest for the moment...We have in fact international rules, but we have no rules if someone is not respecting decisions of international bodies...It is the same with the ICJ. We see that there are no consequences of not respecting international decisions.”

Belgium’s Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib noted that the country’s prime minister decided that Belgium would recognize Palestine “with an impact to assure that it goes with rights and with freedom for Palestinians.”

“So we want a useful recognition,” Lahbib stressed, adding that Belgium would continue to work for a two-state solution.

Israel has killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7 last year, which killed around 1,200 people.

The military campaign has turned much of the enclave of 2.3 million people into ruins, leaving most civilians homeless and at risk of famine.

Israeli forces targeted a camp for displaced people and homes in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Sunday, where at least 35 people were killed. The attack came despite a ruling by the ICJ that ordered Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.

Spain, Norway and Ireland announced that they will recognize Palestinian statehood on May 28.

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