History of the Belgian Consulate General in Jerusalem
In 1850, Belgium had already a network of honorary consulates in the former Ottoman province of Syria, namely in Beirut, Jaffa, Tripoli and Akko. The honorary Consulate in Jerusalem was founded in 1851. His main purpose was the reconstruction of Godfried of Bouillon and Baudouin of Flanders monuments in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. On behalf of the Legation in Constantinople, Count Pizzamano was appointed as the first Belgian Honorary Consul in Jerusalem.
After the death of Count Pizzamano in 1860, it was not until 1908 that the Belgian government appointed a new Honorary Consul: an Italian surgeon named Dr. Mancini. At that time there were three Belgian consulates in Palestine: Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem.
In the early 1920s, the Vatican was considering the establishment of a permanent Catholic Commission in Jerusalem, with a representation of all Catholic countries. The Belgian Government believed that Belgium should not stay away from this initiative. A career consulate, led by the Belgian diplomat J.H.A. Verbruggen was then created in Jerusalem. In 1926, the career consulate was replaced by an honorary consulate due to budgetary constraints.
During the Second World War, diplomat T.J. Clement opened the Consulate General in Jerusalem on 1 March 1941. Since then, the Consulate has been run by diplomats.
The historical events of 1948 and 1967 modified the jurisdiction of the Consulate General in Jerusalem. According to the 1947 partition plan, provided by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 181, Jerusalem is referred to as a “Corpus Separatum”, a separate enclave under international jurisdiction. Thereby, the jurisdiction of the Consulate General is based on this special status, even if the plan was never implemented. From 1948, the Consulate General became responsible for what is now called the West Bank. In 1967, after the Six-Day War, the Gaza Strip was also added to the jurisdiction of the Consulate General of Belgium.
Consequently, the territorial jurisdiction of the Consulate General includes both Jerusalem (the Corpus Separatum) and the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 (West Bank and Gaza). This jurisdiction gives to the Consulate General a special position, shared with the eight other consulates general in Jerusalem which report directly to their respective capitals.
Following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, an additional activity was entrusted to the Consulate General. It became the political representation of Belgium to the newly created Palestinian Authority. The diplomatic relations with the State of Israel remain the exclusive competence of the Embassy of Belgium in Tel Aviv.
Since 2008, the Consul General has also been the Permanent Representative of Belgium to UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East).