The Slovenia Times

Israeli-Palestinian conflict new internal political battleground

Prime Minister Robert Golob and Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon in parliament during questions time. Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Slovenia has unequivocally condemned Hamas's attack on Israel, but a call by a junior ruling coalition party for the government to start a process to recognise the independence of Palestine and condemn Israel as a violator of international law has prompted the opposition to question the government's position, turning the issue into a new internal political battleground.

Quizzed about the matter in questions time in parliament on 16 October, Prime Minister Robert Golob stressed the need to protect civilians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and urged against attempts to try to score internal political points on the backs of victims.

Golob did not respond directly when asked by Franc Breznik, an MP for the opposition Democrats (SDS), about his position on a letter in which Matej T. Vatovec, an MP for the Left, called on Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon to examine all options for establishing a control and prohibition system for Israeli goods coming from occupied Palestinian territories.

On 9 October Vatovec also urged Fajon to actively join the campaign to condemn Israel as one of the greatest violators of international law and to initiate proceedings for the recognition of Palestine as an independent and sovereign state.

The Left has been unsuccessfully calling for parliament to recognise Palestine as an independent country for years, even before it entered government for the first time following the 2022 general election. The party, akin to Greece's Syriza and Spain's Podemos, also opposes Slovenia's membership of NATO, but has sought to save its face in the government by abstaining on decisions affecting NATO or defence spending.

Breznik also raised the issue of 40 NGOs which he said were financed from the state budget and had called last week, in light of the fierce attacks on Gaza, for the condemnation of Israel's occupation policy, the cessation of economic and political cooperation with Israel, and the recognition of Palestine as an independent state.

"The horror and terror that we have witnessed in Israel is perceived equally by all of us. I have not heard anyone in Slovenia supporting the acts of Hamas. These acts are completely reprehensible and abhorrent," the prime minister said in his response.

Golob noted that the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee had unanimously condemned Hamas's attack the week before, urging both sides to respect international law and return to peace talks.

"I'm happy that we mustered national unity on that point," Golob said, expressing regret that "political points are being scored from this horror and terror", calling such politics irresponsible.

He stressed the importance of protecting civilians and respecting humanitarian and international law, clarifying that this does not deny Israel the right to self-defence.

He went on to read the joint statement by the leaders of EU member states, who on 15 October strongly condemned Hamas's attack on Israel, highlighting Israel's right to self-defence.

The leaders, including Golob, highlighted the importance of protecting all civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law and called on Hamas to immediately release all hostages unconditionally.

Breznik was not satisfied with Golob's explanations and filed a procedural motion for the National Assembly to hold a debate on the response at its next session.

Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon (left) talking to Matej T. Vatovec (right), the head of the Left's deputy group. Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Before the session, Foreign Minister Fajon also spoke about the situation in the Middle East, warning of new outbreaks of violence on the West Bank and along the Israeli-Lebanese border.

She stressed that Slovenia, along with like-minded countries, is striving to revive the Middle East peace process with the ultimate goal of a two-state solution.

"Palestine has the right to its own state," Fajon said. However, as she has repeatedly stated in recent days, now is not the right time for Slovenia to recognise Palestine as an independent state.


More from Politics