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Verhofstadt invites Sharon to Brussels

Published on 15/03/2005

15 March 2005

BRUSSELS – In a clear bid to turn a particularly turbulent page in relations between Israel and Belgium, the Belgian Prime Minister has invited his Israeli counterpart to Brussels.

Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt made the offer to Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon on Thursday during a trip to Jerusalem.

“I suggested to him that when he came to visit the European Union, he start with Brussels,” Verhofstadt told reporters.

Two years ago a visit by Sharon to the Belgian capital would have been unthinkable as he would have faced immediate arrest the moment he set foot on Belgian soil.

This is because the Israeli leader had been accused of crimes against humanity under Belgium’s controversial ‘universal competence’ law, which allowed Belgian courts to try anyone suspected of war crimes, whatever their nationality and wherever the alleged offences might have been committed.

The law was modified in August 2003 and now can only be used to try Belgian citizens or long time residents.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news