Belgium Upgrades PA's Diplomatic Status
Belgium said Saturday it had raised the standing of the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic delegation to the country to “mission” status, AFP reports.
The move is a show of commitment to a two-state solution in the Middle East, according to the Belgians.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders confirmed the change from “general delegation” to “mission” after signing an agreement during a bilateral meeting with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas during a visit to Jordan.
“The raising (of status) reflects Belgian and European support for the two-state solution,” Reynders said in a statement quoted by AFP, adding that the head of the mission could use the title of ambassador.
Reynders signed the agreement during a bilateral meeting with Abbas on Saturday. He is currently in the region and will visit Israel next week.
The move had been planned since November 2012 when Belgium was among 138 countries in the United Nations General Assembly to vote to recognize “Palestine” as a “non-member observer state.”
Germany and the United Kingdom abstained from the vote, and the United States and Israel were among just nine countries that came out against the motion.
Since the vote, the PA has made it a mission to garner official recognition as a state from as many countries as possible.
Following that vote, Cyprus gave the “state of Palestine” an embassy, even though it still says that a “Palestinian state” needs to be established through negotiations with Israel.
Last May, Denmark and Finland upgraded the status of the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic missions in their countries.
In the months that have passed since the UN vote, Abbas has taken several steps to officially name the areas he controls "the State of Palestine".
He first ordered all of the PA's institutions to stop using the term "Palestinian National Authority" on official documents and replace it with the term 'the State of Palestine'.
Abbas then issued new guidelines ordering the PA government to re-issue passports, identity cards, registration documents, vehicle licenses, driver's licenses, stamps and postmarks.
Abbas's new guidelines dictate that a new emblem which reads "the State of Palestine" be placed on all re-issued documents.