Belgium Gets It Right on Gaza, Daily Brief, 16 November, 2023.

Daily Brief, 16 November, 2023.


Most of the time, HRW criticizes governments for their human rights abuses, violations of international law, and damaging policies generally. It’s very rare for us to praise a government for getting something right.

That’s why a new article by my Brussels colleague Claudio Francavilla is so unusual. In it, he highlights the many positive steps the Belgian government has taken in addressing the Israel-Palestine crisis.

The Belgian government has condemned the October 7 killings by Palestinian armed groups; questioned the legality of some Israeli airstrikes; and condemned Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians and called for targeted sanctions on those responsible. All good.

What’s more, the Belgian government has expressed support for the International Criminal Court’s role and its ongoing investigation on the situation in Palestine, which includes jurisdiction over the current hostilities between the Israeli government and Palestinian armed groups.

Not all countries in the EU have matched Belgium, sadly. Instead, the EU and its member states have been arguing over their approach to the crisis in past weeks. It’s somewhat curious, given this is a bloc of countries that says it promotes the universal application of international law.

They should all be able to take a principled approach, condemning abuses against Palestinian and Israeli civilians, urging the Israeli government to stop committing war crimes, and urging Palestinian armed groups to immediately and unconditionally release all civilian hostages.

Belgium is showing the way.