Belgium’s Proposed Israel Sanctions: Moral Stance or Selective Hypocrisy?

by | May 6, 2024 | Economy | 0 comments

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo’s announcement of his intention to impose economic sanctions on Israel due to its war on Hamas in Gaza and encourage other EU countries to do the same, marks a significant escalation in the country’s pro-Palestinian policy and criticism of Israel.

However, this move is not without its hypocrisy. Belgium is one of the few countries that is criticizing Israel for its actions in Gaza has no qualms about trading with other nations that have far more egregious human rights records.

China, for example, has been accused of numerous breaches of human rights. Since 2014, Chinese government, under Xi Jinping, has incarcerated more than an estimated one million Turkic Muslims without any legal process in internment camps. Despite this, Belgium and other EU countries continue to trade with China, ignoring human rights concerns.

Similarly, Russia has been criticized for its invasion in Ukraine and its human rights record, but Belgium and other EU countries continue to maintain diplomatic and trade relations with Moscow.

Saudi Arabia, a country known for its human rights abuses, particularly against women and minority groups, is also a major trading partner of Belgium. Another example is Turkey, which has been accused of human rights abuses against its Kurdish population while occupying North Cyprus. Despite these concerns, Belgium continues to conduct significant commercial transactions with both countries.

The hypocrisy is not limited to trade relations. The same countries that are criticizing Israel for its actions in Gaza have also been silent on the human rights abuses committed by other countries. For example, the UN Human Rights Council has been criticized for its selective condemnation of human rights abuses, with many countries that have poor human rights records being granted membership on the council.

De Croo’s proposed sanctions on Israel are not only a selective approach to human rights but also a misguided one. Israel is a democracy that has a strong commitment to human rights, and the vast majority of its actions in Gaza are justified as a response to the massacre committed by Hamas on October 7.

The impact of De Croo’s proposed sanctions on the Israeli economy could be significant should other countries follow the suit. Israel is heavily reliant on international trade, with the European Union being its largest trading partner. About a quarter of Israeli exports and a third of imports come from the EU.

Moreover, the sanctions could lead to a decline in the diamond trade between Belgium and Israel, which would have a ripple effect on the global diamond market. The diamond trade is a significant contributor to the bilateral trade between the two countries, and a decline in this trade would have far-reaching consequences for both economies.

In conclusion, De Croo’s proposed sanctions on Israel are a misguided and hypocritical approach to human rights. The same countries criticizing Israel have extensive trade relationships with other nations with far more egregious human rights track records. This double standard suggests that anti-Israel sentiment can now be openly expressed on the world stage without fear of being labelled as biassed. Tragically, we have seen similar patterns of treatment of Jews and scapegoating in the past, as proven by events that occurred just 90 years ago in the same old Europe.

Image credit: Belgium’s PM reaffirms its stance calling for a ceasefire in Gaza [Getty]


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