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Belize Doubles Down on Its Position Regarding Israel

The Belize government has defended its decision to implement several measures against Israel, including withdrawing its agreement regarding the accreditation of the country’s Ambassador-Designate to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country, Einat Kranz-Neiger, in protest at the actions of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in the Gaza. 

On Wednesday, Belmopan said it was also suspending “all activities conducted by the Israeli Honorary Consulate in Belize and the appointment of the Honorary Consul”. 

Belmopan said that since October 7, the IDF has engaged in “unceasing indiscriminate bombing in Gaza, which has killed more than 11,000 innocent civilians, mostly women and children”. 

In its original statement, Belize made no reference to what led to the war in Gaza in October, noting however that the bombing has destroyed many buildings and infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and other infrastructure. 

Foreign Minister Eamon Courtenay in an interview with News 5 television said the John Briceno government believes that it has “an obligation, a legal obligation to speak out and to take whatever steps we can to try to encourage Israel to stop what it is doing and in that regard, we have sent tweets, we have joined press releases by CARICOM. 

“I have spoken to the designated ambassador to Belize, we have sent a diplomatic note encouraging an immediate ceasefire allowing relief supplies to go in and, of course, the release of all hostages.  All of that has fallen on deaf ears insofar as Israel is concerned and therefore, on Monday, the Cabinet, along with the PUP parliamentarians took the decision which we announced yesterday,” he told television viewers. 

Courtenay insisted that the position of the government “is based on principles, fundamental principles that underpin our foreign policy. 

“First of all, all disputes should, according to the United Nations Charter, be resolved peacefully.  Secondly, there is, in the case of war or conflict, certain rules and laws that apply.  One is referred to as distinction which is that you must go distinctly after your target, you cannot collectively punish people.” 

He said in the case of Gaza, “What we are seeing from our point of view is a complete, indiscriminate bombing of civilians, infrastructure in Gaza. 

“In the case of the law of war, there is another principle; one is called whatever you do must be proportionate.  What we are seeing is absolutely not proportionate and therefore, in our view, there is a gross violation of international law by the government of Israel. 

“But beyond that, there is just the real human dimension and we see a roughly two million people in a very small, confined area who were told everybody in the north move south.  They were bombed in the north, they were bombed on their way to the south and now they are all trapped, or most of them are trapped in the south and we are witnessing bombings in the south,” the Foreign Affairs Minister added. 

The Belize statement is in contrast to the one issue by the 15-member CARICOM grouping of which it is a member. 

In its statement, CARICOM said it “abhors the attacks in Israel and the counterattacks in the Palestinian territory of Gaza” and that “the savage nature of the attacks and counterattacks is the antithesis of civilised life and living. Innocent lives are being lost amidst the fervor and violence of the actual combatants. 

“CARICOM thus joins the responsible members of the international community in calling for an immediate ceasefire and end of hostilities by all parties.”. 

CARICOM said it continues to support the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and the ongoing efforts of the United Nations” towards a two-state solution as the best way to achieve comprehensive peace, security and tranquility between Israel and Palestine”. 

But in his television interview, Courtenay reiterated that Belize “consulted widely, adding” we consulted our diplomats, our ambassadors, our foreign service officers on what steps to take. 

“As you are aware, former foreign ministers, former prime ministers have spoken on this issue and have provided advice and support.  So I think that we have done our part, in terms of analyzing the situation critically. 

“Looking at the pros and cons and possible reactions to Belize’s decision and on balance we came out that the scales weigh heavily in favor of what we did and I think those who disagree with it are wrong,” he added. 

Asked how long he envisages the measures against Israel remaining in place, Courtenay, responded saying “that is under review. 

“We have made the decisions that we have made based on the facts as we know them today. Unless and until Israel starts to abide by its obligations as a matter of international law and as a member of the world community, Belize will not have diplomatic relations and diplomatic contact with Israel. 

“Until there is peace in Gaza, until the rights of the Gazan people, the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination for a two-state solution, for them to continue to act the way they are acting, to behave the way they are behaving, we do not believe that it is in the interest of Belize which is a peace-loving country, a country that respects international, a country that abides by the norms of international statecraft, we do not believe that we should be having contact with them,” Courtenay told viewers. 

More than 1.6 million people have been displaced in Gaza, and health officials there say more than 11,200 have been killed. Israel estimates 1,200 people were killed in the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7, with 239 people still held hostage in Gnight calling for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas and for urgent and extended humanitarian corridors throughout the enclave to save and protect civilian lives. The vote came after four unsuccessful efforts to take action last month. 

Source : Caribbean