Brussels government cancels trade mission to Israel and Palestine
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    Brussels government cancels trade mission to Israel and Palestine

    Criticism of the mission that was planned by the Walloon and Brussels Regions has grown in recent weeks. Credit: Pxhere

    The Brussels Region has cancelled its involvement in the economic mission to Israel and Palestine following heavy criticism from the opposition in the Parliament and other organisations.

    The trade mission will take place between 8 and 11 December. However, the Brussels Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Pascal Smet, said on Thursday that the Brussels-Capital-Region would no longer take part in the mission. “There will be no political representation, and hub.brussels will not be represented either,” he said, reports Bruzz.

    Companies that would participate in the mission, allegedly some 4 Brussels and Walloon companies, can still travel to the Middle East. “However, they will not be able to make use of the planned reimbursement scheme,” said Smet.

    Criticism of the mission that was planned by the Walloon and Brussels Regions has grown in recent weeks, specifically related to the way Israel does not follow the international agreements in regards to the blockade of the Gaza strip.

    The non-profit organisation Vrede and the far-left opposition party in the Brussels Parliament called for the mission to be cancelled. “This is about participation in Israeli colonisation politics,” said Stéphanie Koplowicz (PVDA). “The UN Human Rights Committee has indicated that over 200 companies are doing business in these illegal settlements. Does the government want to encourage the participation of Brussels companies in this?” she said in the Parliament.

    On Monday, Minister-President of Wallonia Elio Di Rupo had already announced that no Walloon state representative would take part in the mission. “The lack of progress in the peace process, the little progress on the ground, and the violation by Israel of important parts of the Geneva Convention force us to be cautious about official cooperation,” he said, reports Knack.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times