On November 29th. 1947, Belgium voted in favor of UN resolution 181, which called for the partition of British-ruled Palestine into Jewish and Arab States. On January 15th. 1950, Belgium recognized de jure the State of Israel. Ever since that time, Belgium and Israel have entertained good relations, as evidenced by the numerous reciprocal visits and tokens of friendship.
The most illustrious Belgian friend of Israel was Queen Elizabeth, the great-grandmother of the present king, who felt a deep commitment to the Jewish people and to the newly created State. She helped save many Jews during the Nazi occupation of Belgium, and was granted the title of “Righteous among the Nations” by Yad Vashem. In February 2010, a plaque in the memory of King Albert I, the husband of Queen Elizabeth, was unveiled at the Albert Square in Tel Aviv. King Albert I had visited Tel Aviv in 1933 (a year before his tragic death in a climbing accident) and was hosted by Mayor Meir Dizengoff, who was also Honorary Consul of Belgium. He expressed on this occasion his deep sympathy for the renewal of Jewish life in this land.
King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola came on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1964 and visited Israel where they were greeted by President Zalman Shazar. These visits were followed by many others over the years, Belgian ministers coming on official visits to Israel and their Israeli counterparts welcomed in Belgium.
Belgium stood by Israel in difficult times and has also always been willing to act as a mediator on the diplomatic scene. It was instrumental in helping Israel establish quasi diplomatic relations with Tunisia, in facilitating the immigration to Israel of Soviet Jews in the seventies and of Ethiopian Jews in the eighties. In New York, Belgium helped Israel join the Western European Group (WEOG) at the UN.
Belgian policy in regard to the Middle East Peace Process is that of the European Union. Like all other EU countries, Belgium is committed to a negotiated two-States solution agreed between the parties which would result in a viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian State existing side by side with Israel living within recognized and secure borders.
Various cultural, scientific and economic bilateral agreements have been signed over the years between the two countries. Several Belgium-Israel friendship associations organize activities in both countries to promote and strengthen bilateral relations.
Each year, scholarships are granted to Israeli students to study in Belgian universities and Belgian students come to study in Israel thanks to scholarships offered by Israel. Click here for more information on scholarships.
Belgium is one of Israel’s most important commercial partners (due largely to the diamond sector) and some Israeli companies have their European headquarters in Belgium.