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Belgium endorses Palestine's UN bid, Spain and Ireland may follow

The State of Palestine is seeking more diplomatic recognition from Western Europe as it seeks to become a full member of the United Nations.
Demonstrators hold a giant Palestinian flag during the 'Justice for Palestine' rally in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Brussels on March 17, 2024. (Photo by HATIM KAGHAT / Belga / AFP) / Belgium OUT (Photo by HATIM KAGHAT/Belga/AFP via Getty Images)

Belgium’s top diplomat said on Monday that Brussels will support the State of Palestine becoming a full member of the United Nations, as more European countries prepare to recognize a Palestinian state.

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said in a post on X that her country will support upgrading the State of Palestine’s status at the UN. She made the comments during the visit by her Palestinian counterpart, Riyad al-Maliki, to Brussels.

Lahbib spoke in reference to the State of Palestine seeking to become a permanent member of the UN. At present, the Palestinians only have observer status in the body.

Why it matters: Lahbib’s comments come at an important time for the State of Palestine. Early last month, the Palestinian mission to the UN sent a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres requesting “renewed consideration” for its application to become a permanent member state.

Admitting member states to the UN requires support from both the Security Council and the General Assembly. The United States vetoed the Palestinian bid at a council meeting last month. The General Assembly could vote on the matter this Friday, according to Reuters.

Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour told Al-Monitor in March that more recognition from Western European states of a Palestinian state would be “helpful” in regard to the membership bid. At present, only Iceland and Sweden recognize a Palestinian state among Western European countries.

The Palestinian efforts to build support in Western Europe are gaining momentum. In March, Spain, Ireland, Malta and Slovenia agreed to start the process of recognizing a Palestinian state. Last month, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told the World Economic Forum in Riyadh that the four countries along with Belgium are expected to recognize a Palestinian statehood by the end of May.

The movement to admit the State of Palestine as a full member of the UN has been met with backlash from Israel. Speaking before the General Assembly last week, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said that admitting the State of Palestine would reward Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that sparked the Gaza war.

“You have done nothing for the victims but have mobilized for the murderers,” he said. “You prefer another rogue state and to hell with the Jewish state.”

The State of Palestine is led by the Palestinian Authority (PA), an entity that is separate from Hamas. The PA did not condemn the Oct. 7 attack, as noted by Erdan. Fatah, the leading faction in the PA, is currently pursuing reconciliation with Hamas, though the two have yet to reach an agreement. The rival groups have been at odds since the 2006 Palestinian elections that led to the PA administration in the West Bank and Hamas control in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier at the meeting, Mansour said that admitting the State of Palestine should not be decided by "extremists" in Israel.

"The admission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations is an unequivocal signal that Palestinian self-determination and statehood are not subject to the whims and will of the extremists in Israel," he said, referencing Israel's right-wing government.

Know more: Students occupied part of Ghent University in Belgium on Tuesday in solidarity with the Palestinians, Reuters reported. The pro-Palestinian protest mirrors those in the United States as well as the Netherlands and France in response to the war in Gaza.