In a departure from Belgium’s official policy, the country’s secretary of state said that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
Philippe de Backer, whose position in the Belgian government is comparable to that of a deputy Cabinet minister, made his remarks in an interview published earlier this week for Joods Actueel, the Jewish monthly of Antwerp.
“There is no doubt that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It’s clear; it’s reality. There’s no discussion on this issue,” he said. “But we’re in a political context where Europe sees Jerusalem as subject to negotiations toward a two-state solution.”
In December, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel condemned President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The United States intends to move its embassy there next month from Tel Aviv.
Trump has said that his recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital does not exclude future recognition of parts of the city as the Palestinian capital, if the two sides reach an agreement.
The United States is formulating a framework for talks. However, officials from the Palestinian Authority, including its president, Mahmoud Abbas, have said they consider the United States unfit to mediate talks following its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Israel took over the eastern part of Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967. The Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital city for a future independent state.