Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sophie Wilmès attended the extraordinary sitting of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 18 May which was organised as a result of the escalation in violence in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. This topic was discussed with High Representative Borrell last Saturday.

This meeting offered Belgium an opportunity to express its profound concern regarding the intense escalation in violence, which has resulted in civilian deaths, including children. Our country has been publicly calling for and using diplomatic channels to demand a de-escalation and an immediate end to hostilities. “During this meeting, we confirmed our intention to fully support bilateral and multilateral diplomatic initiatives focussing on bringing an end to the hostilities; this is the top priority. We once again emphasised that the European Union, but also the Quartet for the Middle East, have clear roles to play in this context. The Quartet must provide new stimuli, also at a ministerial level, to tackling the issue”, according to Sophie Wilmès.

The renewed tensions reveal more than even the need to tackle the underlying causes of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. “In close consultation with the US and the most important regional actors, the EU must actively contribute towards restoring the political horizon for a two-state solution and the resumption of negotiations.”

Sophie Wilmès also called on the European Union to decide which instruments to apply in order to positively influence the peace negotiations. “This evaluation must set out the stimulating and encouraging measures that we can provide for guaranteeing the continuation of dialogue and negotiations within the peace process, so they are clear to all parties.”  This is a very robust proposal that Belgium has made on a European level. “I hope that it will be well received in the Council because Europe must play its role and contribute towards the solution”, added the Deputy Prime Minister.