Israel's Belgian envoy turns table on Brussels' Gaza reprimand
After being lashed by Belgium and Luxembourg over Israeli policies and its 'disproportionate' use of force during latest wave of unrest, Ambassador Simona Frenkel refuses ‘to listen with a bowed head', tells top diplomats, 'your one-sided positions don’t contribute to peace.'
“It seems that the Belgian Foreign Ministry belongs to a school of thought according to which when an ambassador is summoned for a conversation or a reprimand, he is supposed to behave like a child who has misbehaved, to listen with a bowed head and not to respond,” Frenkel wrote in a report sent to the Foreign Ministry.
“I responded and fired back against Belgium: Your one-sided positions do not contribute to peace.”
Frenkel was first invited to a meeting with Deputy Director-General of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Anick Van Calster, who recently visited Israel.
Van Calster opened by saying that she had been instructed by Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders to invite Frenkel in order to clarify the Belgian position, to voice objections to events that occurred on Monday on the Gaza border and to protest against what was described as a “disproportionate” use of force.
Calster also expressed anger over statements made by Frenkel during an interview with the country’s RTBF radio station, in which she described those killed in Gaza during the wave of unrest as terrorists.
According to Calster, Frenkel’s words were “unacceptable to us”. The Belgian diplomat also bemoaned the humanitarian crisis gripping the strip while decrying the humanitarian deterioration in the West Bank, condemning Israeli settlements and Jerusalem’s policy of demolishing terrorists' homes.
“We are urging you to act in accordance with international law on the use of proportional force and the protection of human life. We will support the setting up of an independent investigation and we call on all sides to take efforts to bring about peace in the region,” Frenkel was told.
After listening to the list of complaints about Israel’s actions, the Israeli ambassador attempted to rebut each accusation leveled against the country, rejecting the notion out of hand that any investigative committee could be genuinely independent.
“Regarding the independent investigation committee: There has never been an investigation committee that was independent when it comes to our affairs. All of them were political, where there is an automatic majority of people against Israel,” she replied.
“Moreover, Belgium is the last to claim an independent investigation committee since its Prime Minister Charles Michel has determined even before the committee has been established that Israel had to be punished, You have already predetermined the outcome,” Frenkel argued.
She also defended her comments on the radio, drawing Van Calster’s attention to the fact that doubts had already been cast on whether a Gazan baby had in fact been killed by Israeli forces during the protests.
“You raised an outcry because I described them all as terrorists, but this morning we now know that regarding the 8 month old baby who was killed and allegedly hit by the IDF, even the journalists in Gaza are moderating their positions and are saying that she may have already been dying beforehand and was deliberately brought to the fence,” Frenkel noted, before offering what she described as “proof” that the Hamas terror group was responsible for the violent protests.
“The fact that with the press of a button by Hamas the protesters disappeared serves as much proof as one thousand witnesses of who brought them there,” she added.
Addressing the allegation that Israel had employed a disproportionate use of force, Frenkel asked the senior Belgian diplomat: “I would like to hear from you how you define proportionality?”
Finally, the ambassador concluded her meeting with her own reprimand of the Belgian government’s conduct, accusing it of adopting positions that are not conducive to peace in the region.
“There is no one who wants peace more than we do, but the Belgian response and its one-sided positions usually do not contribute to peace.”