Belgium to support Palestine's full UN membership bid, foreign minister says

Belgium to support Palestine's full UN membership bid, foreign minister says
Belgium is the latest European country to push for Palestine's full membership at the UN, which would grant them full voting rights at the world body.
3 min read
07 May, 2024
Belgium, via its Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib, has been critical of Israel's military campaign in Gaza [Getty/file photo]

Belgium said it will push for Palestine's full membership at the United Nations, saying that the would constitute an "important step on the road to peace" amid Israel's war on Gaza and the continuing occupation of the West Bank.

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said that Brussels will back Palestine's bid during a meeting with Riyad al-Maliki, her Palestinian counterpart.

"In my letter to Riyad al-Maliki, the special envoy of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, I confirmed that we support Palestine’s full membership in the United Nations as an important first step towards peace," the top diplomat said in a statement on X, on Monday.

"The vote will take place this week, on 10 May. It is important that the European Union does not miss this historic moment. Belgium wants to co-sponsor and support this resolution," said Lahbib, via the country's Belga News Agency (BNA) . "We will not miss this appointment with history."

Since 2012, Palestine has been a non-member observer state at the UN, meaning that it can participate in the proceedings but cannot vote on draft resolutions and decisions in its main bodies.

Prior to that year, Palestine was considered "an observer entity" at the world body.

A UN Security Council meeting in April on Palestine's potential full membership at the world body saw the United Sates veto a draft resolution that would have recommended that the General Assembly hold a vote to grant Palestine full UN membership.

The US was the only country to veto the measure. Twelve countries voted in favour, while the UK and Switzerland abstained.

An application to become a full UN member needs to be approved by the 15-member Security Council and then the General Assembly.

On Friday, the United Nations General Assembly could vote on a draft resolution that would recognise Palestine as qualified to become a full member of the body, after Riyad al-Mansour, permanent observer for the State of Palestine said he would bring the matter to the General Assembly's attention.

Belgium, Spain and Ireland have all been sharply critical of Israel's war in the Gaza Strip compared to other European countries.  At least 34,789 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, mostly women and children.

Israel has relentlessly bombed and destroyed key infrastructure, and targeted civilian facilities and concentrations. It has also imposed a blockade depriving Palestinians of essential goods such as food, water and fuel.

Israel's military onslaught in the enclave has been described as a genocide by rights groups.

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Belgium, who has called for a ceasefire in Gaza on multiple occasions, now joins Spain, Malta and Slovenia in the European push for the recognition of a Palestinian state. 

Also this year, Algeria has vowed it will work towards securing full UN membership for Palestine.