Photo: Belize’s Foreign Minister, Eamon Courtenay
Israel FM lashes out at GoB for suspending diplomatic ties with Israel; former PMs and FMs back Belize’s decision
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Nov. 16, 2023
On November 14th the Government issued a press release saying that they were withdrawing its Agreement for the accreditation of H.E. Einat Kranz-Neiger, Israel’s Ambassador Designate to Belize. They were suspending all activities conducted by the Israeli Honorary Consulate in Belize and the appointment of the Honorary Consul. Furthermore, the Government of Belize was suspending all activities of Belize’s Honorary Consulate in Tel Aviv, Israel, and withdrawing the appointment of its Honorary Consul; and also withdrawing its request for accreditation of Mr. Jonathan Enav as Belize’s Honorary Consul.
On the heels of Israel’s Foreign Minister Liar Haiat’s condemnation of Belize’s decision to suspend diplomatic ties with Israel, two of Belize’s former Prime Ministers and two former Foreign Ministers have issued a joint press release supporting Belize’s decision.
Former Prime Ministers, Said Musa and Dean Barrow, and Foreign Ministers Assad Shoman and Godfrey Smith, stated: “We place on record our complete and unwavering support for the decision of the government of Belize to suspend diplomatic relations with Israel.”
The joint statement said that they regard it as the very least that Belize could do to comply with an obligation under the Genocide Convention and the Geneva Conventions of 1949 on international humanitarian law. According to the release, under both Conventions Belize is obligated to do all in its power to denounce and seek to stop a violation of the Conventions, especially one so egregious as genocide.
“The government cannot be accused of taking sides—there are no two sides to a genocide,” the press release said. It went on to describe the state of lawlessness in Gaza, saying that to remain silent to the massacre of thousands of people including women and children is a violation to our humanity.
Haiat, via his Twitter account, stated, “Israel condemns the decision of the Government of Belize to suspend diplomatic relations with Israel.” The statement goes on to say that Israel views Belize’s decision as “surrounding to Hamas’ terrorism and aligning with the axis of evil led by Iran.” Haiat said that Belize is “blatantly ignoring” the 1,200 people who were killed by Hamas on October 7th and the 240 hostages that have been kidnapped. In ending his response Haiat said that Israel will continue to act by international law, while Hamas commits war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The United Democratic Party also issued a press release on the Government’s decision to suspend ties with Israel, saying that they were “disturbed” by GoB’s decision. “We believe that maintaining open channels of communication is vital for fostering understanding and working towards a lasting solution to conflict,” said the UDP press release.
Belize’s Foreign Minister, Eamon Courtenay has gone on the record to say that the suspension of diplomatic ties was a unanimous Cabinet and Parliamentary decision, based solely on principle. Minister Courtenay says that his government believes that they have a legal obligation to speak out and take whatever steps that they can to encourage Israel to ceasefire. The decision according to Courtenay was a last resort after Belize had posted tweets, sent joint press releases by CARICOM, spoken to designated ambassadors, sent diplomatic notes encouraging supplies to go into Gaza, and even pleaded for the release of hostages. All this, according to Minister Courtenay, has fallen on deaf ears.
Courtenay was asked to opine on the likelihood of blowback repercussions for Belize for taking such a bold move. He responded by saying that Belize does not have much cooperation with Israel, and when an analysis was done it revealed that there was no major concern that cooperation arrangements of cooperation programs would be affected.
Minister Courtenay pointed to the fact that Israel had consistently voted against Belize’s independence, and in 1980 abstained from voting in favor of Belize’s independence. He said that the government of Israel and the Government of Guatemala have always had a very close relationship, one that Belize has monitored from a security point of view. Courtenay further indicated that he does not think that there is anything Belize can say or do to affect the relationship between the two countries.
“I don’t think that Belizeans should be concerned that there is going to be any reaction by Israelis in terms of doing anything with Guatemala that would harm Belize,” said Courtenay. Even if they should do so, Courtenay said that he is confident that Belize’s diplomats and friends in the international arena would come to Belize’s aid.
But while Courtenay was looking at our relations with Israel and Guatemala, Belizeans are also focusing on whether there will be any blowback from the United States. For that reason, Amandala asked Minister Courtenay whether he believed that the United States’ Department of State updated the travel advisory to Belize at Level Two as a direct response to Belize’s recent action against Israel.
Minister Courtenay told our newspaper, “Not in the least. The US is legally required to issue these advisories based on the statistics. It is not a policy decision by them.”
The advisory asked Americans and foreigners to exercise extreme caution when traveling to Belize due to increased crimes.
The National Evangelical Association of Belize (NEAB) is the most recent organization to come out in opposition to Belize’s decision. On Thursday, November 16th, NEAB issued a press release saying that they were extremely disappointed and were in strong disagreement with Belize’s decision.
“We must call this out as a one-sided grave error by our Government needing reversal, and immediate restoring of relationship with Israel,” said the release.
NEAB called out the government for condemning Israel and suspending international relations with them but failing to address or condemn Hamas for its attack on Israel.
Late on Thursday evening, the Government clapped back at the churches, pointing out that they have publicly condemned Hamas’s actions against Israel and that they strongly refute claims made by the churches which accuse the Government of siding with Hamas. The Government press release snapped back at the churches by accusing them of failing to condemn Israel for killing thousands of innocent civilians including women and children, and even refusing to allow civilians to have access to food, water, electricity and even healthcare.