The capital of Israel is, in fact, Jerusalem, Secretary of State Philippe De Backer said in an interview this week in the Joods Actueel magazine, where he also slams the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities (UNIA). “There is no doubt that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” the Flemish liberal said. “It’s clear: full stop! There is no discussion on the issue. But we are in a political context today, and Europe sees Jerusalem as an aspect of the negotiations aimed at a two-state solution.”
De Backer, who heads the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open Vld) list in Antwerp for the municipal elections, has thus moved away from the position adopted by Belgium. Answering a query in the Chamber in December, Prime Minister Charles Michel had condemned the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump added that his recognition did not prejudice negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.
De Backer also agreed with the heavy criticism levelled in Flanders against UNIA by the Forum der Joodse Organisaties (Forum of Jewish Organisations).
“UNIA must treat all forms of racism in the same way and not decide what is important for them and what isn’t,” he said. “I think that, in the past, they made wrong choices and must now correct themselves. Either they change now, or they jeopardize their existence; and the politicians will have to reflect on the creation of an institution that will carry out these tasks correctly.”