Government and Churches Disagree Over Belize’s Stance on Israel-Palestine Conflict
Tonight, the government and the churches remain at odds over the Israel-Palestine conflict that has now killed over twelve thousand persons. Yesterday, the Briceno Administration responded to the Belize Council of Churches (BCC) and the National Evangelical Association of Belize (NEAB), which both opposed GOB’s stance on Israel. The government stated that neither the BCC nor the NEAB condemned the killing of over 11,000 civilians by Israeli Defence Forces, or Israel’s relentless and indiscriminate bombing for nearly 50 days, including destroying hospitals, refugee camps, and other infrastructure. Minister of Foreign Affairs Eamon Courtenay weighed in on the release today and says that the churches should have consulted Gob before taking such a step.
Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “Whilst we respect these organizations’ right to present their statements, we think first of all it would have been better if we had been consulted so that we could have corrected the inaccuracies in their statements. For example, Belizeans continue to be free to travel to Israel and we have made arrangements with a friendly country in the event any Belizean gets into trouble there, there is no visa requirement to go to Israel. So any Belizean who wants to go to the Holy Land can do so freely. The decision that we took has not impacted or changed that in any way as far as we know. I mean Israel might change their mind, Israel might react but we don’t know that up to date. Also I think it was just completely wrong to suggest that the Government of Belize had not condemned the actions by Hamas. We regretted very strongly and condemned what we regarded as the killing of innocent civilians on the 7th of October. However, what we have said is that the response by Israel is not only illegal, it is not only contrary to international law and international humanitarian law, it is disproportionate, it amounts to genocide and we condemn that in the strongest way. We have made that very clear to Israel.”
Reporter: Sir is it somewhat disappointing to see the stance that the churches took ?
Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “Well they are coming at it from a different perspective. They are coming at it primarily from a religious perspective and we respect that and we appreciate their support, at least the Council of Churches’ support for a two-state solution, to pray for peace, that is very important. But most importantly, the issue I would say is that they should have consulted with us first and they could have made, in my view, a more informed statement. But let me underline this with both of those entities the Government of Belize has a very good and constructive relationship and we will just continue to build on it.”
Both organizations have called on the government to restore the full diplomatic relationship between Belize and Israel.