Supreme Court, K.E. and G.E. v Prosecutor, Nr. C.21.0095.F, 19 November 2021
The Belgian Supreme Court examines a judgement concerning the existence of Palestine as a State. The Court recalls that the 1933 Montevideo Convention is to be considered as codified customary international law and therefore applicable in the Belgian legal system. The first article of the Convention prescribes four criteria which States should fulfil in order to exist, regardless of any recognition by third States. Consequently, Belgian courts have the authority to apply and interpret this article without this interpretation becoming neither a general and legal rule nor any kind of recognition by the Belgian State. Hence, the Court adjudges that the understanding of article 1 applied to the State of Palestine in the underlying judgement was legally constituted and therefore dismisses the appeal in cassation as unfounded.
Supreme Court, X and X v Prosecutor, Nr. C.20.0482.N, 26 February 2021
In this case, two applicants instituted an appeal in cassation against a judgement of the Ghent Court of Appeal of 28 March 2019 denying their request for recognition as stateless persons. According to the Court of Appeal the applicants could not be regarded as stateless persons because they were considered as Palestinian nationals by the State of Palestine in accordance with applicable law. As the Palestinian law referred to was not specified in the judgment itself, the Court of Cassation quashed the judgment because of an inadequate statement of reasons.
AGENTSCHAP INTEGRATIE & INBURGERING, “HvC verbreekt arrest dat naar Palestijnse nationaliteitswetteving verwijst”, 2021, www.agii.be/nieuws/hvc-verbreekt-arrest-dat-naar-palestijnse-nationaliteitswetgeving-verwijst.
Liège First Instance Tribunal, X, Nr. 20/770/B, 5 February 2021
The Tribunal assessed wether a man of Palestinian origin, as well as his underage children, could be recognized as stateless persons. According to the Tribunal, the inconsistent Belgian case-law on the question whether Palestine qualified as a State rendered it necessary to refer to the position of the organ constitutionally competent in the matter, i.e., the Belgian federal government. In light of the government’s refusal to recognize Palestine as a State, any attempt at indirect recognition of Palestinian statehood by the judiciary was in vain. The Tribunal accordingly confirmed the applicants should be regarded as being stateless in the sense of the 1954 New York Convention.
Supreme Court, A.N.H., Nr. C.18.0400.N, 18 February 2019
The Court holds that a ‘State’ can be said to exist when the criteria laid down in the 1933 Montevideo Convention are fulfilled, and that the creation of a State is, in principle, not contingent on its recognition by other States. In light hereof, the Ghent Court of Appeal did not err in regarding the claimant as a Palestinian national, rather than a Stateless person. In particular, the Supreme Court rejects the claimant’s argument that Palestine could not be qualified as a State due to a lack of recognition by the international community.
Bruges First Instance Tribunal, X, 14/1508/B, 23 November 2015
The Tribunal examined a request of a man of Palestinian origin seeking recognition as a stateless person. Since statelessness presupposes an absence of ‘nationality’, and ‘nationality’ in turn necessitates a connection between an individual and a ‘State’, the Tribunal needed to determine whether Palestine qualified as such. Starting from the four cumulative conditions of the 1933 Montevideo Convention, the Tribunal accepts that Palestine fulfills the requirements of a permanent population and a defined (even if fragmented) territory. By contrast, it is less clear whether the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) qualifies as an ‘effective government’, since it only has limited powers and Israel still controls their airways, external borders, territorial waters, national registrations, taxes and functions in the government itself. In any case, according to the Tribunal, fulfillment of the Montevideo criteria is ‘manifestly meaningless’ if the Palestinian State is not internationally recognized. As a significant number of countries, including Belgium itself, has not recognized Palestine as such, the Tribunal cannot under present circumstances establish the existence of a sovereign Palestinian State. It follows that the applicant cannot be seen as having the ‘Palestinian nationality’ and must be regarded as being stateless.
Rb. Brugge 23 november 2015, T.Vreemd 2016, afl. 2, 223.
AGENTSCHAP INTEGRATIE EN INBURGERING, “Palestijnse nationaliteit wordt niet erkend, staatloosheid dus niet uitgesloten”, T.Vreemd 2016, 509-510.