Pro-Palestinian protest in Ljubljana as officials urge cessation of hostilities
Several hundred people took to the streets in Ljubljana on 9 November in support of Palestinians as the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee endorsed a declaration calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities, a ceasefire and humanitarian corridors in Gaza.
Calling for the end of violence in the Middle East, the pro-Palestinian protesters criticised the West, including Slovenia, for continuing to unconditionally support Israel despite the rising numbers of victims in Gaza.
"We are witnessing how Gaza is turning into a graveyard," said a representative of the organisers, the Movement for the Rights of Palestinians, in a second such rally since 19 October.
The protesters commemorated the more than 10,000 Palestinian victims with a minute of silence.
They urged Slovenia as a future non-permanent member of the UN Security Council to do whatever is in its power to protect humanitarian law and human rights law. They called for an immediate halt to the trade in arms and military equipment with Israel.
Declaration on Palestine and Israel
The rally was held just hours after the Foreign Policy Committee endorsed a declaration on the situation in Palestine and Israel, while Prime Minister Robert Golob called for a humanitarian cessation of hostilities at a conference in Paris.
Sponsored by the ruling coalition and supported by the government, the declaration is expected to be passed by the National Assembly later this month.
The document calls on the parties to the conflict to stop fighting, cease the hostilities, protect all civilians and release the hostages, while unconditionally removing obstacles to humanitarian aid.
Attending the committee session, Foreign Minster Tanja Fajon said the government too was calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and for humanitarian corridors, but regretted that the international community and the EU are divided it their response.
The opposition was critical of the proposed document for designating Hamas as an "extremist Palestinian movement" rather than a terrorist organisation, for failing to say that Hamas started the war and for failing to condemn Iran's support for Hamas and Hezbollah.
In the end, the committee endorsed an amendment by the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) to term Hamas a terrorist organisation, but voted down the proposal to highlight and condemn Iran's role in supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, as proposed by Janez Janša, the leader of the Democrats (SDS).
The 16-point declaration calls for a more ambitious, responsible and coordinated international approach to the crisis that should lead to peaceful and lasting coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians and a two-state solution.
It expresses deep concern over the escalation in the Middle East, calls on the government to continue its humanitarian aid activities in the Gaza Strip and continue to support the international community's efforts to resolve the conflict.
The declaration condemns the 7 October attack against Israel by Hamas, recognises that Israel has the right to self-defence under the UN Charter, and calls on Israel to respond to the attack in accordance with international and humanitarian law.
PM Golob urges delivery of humanitarian aid
Attending an international humanitarian conference on aid for civilians in the Gaza Strip hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, Golob called for a cessation of hostilities on both sides to allow access to humanitarian aid in Gaza.
Slovenia has secured an additional €1 million to double its contribution in humanitarian aid to help Palestine.
Golob echoed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in saying that "what we are witnessing in Gaza is not just a humanitarian crisis, it is a crisis of humanity".
"The bombing and shelling that we can see is in no proportion with the right to self defence and it's a violation of international humanitarian law," Golob said. He also urged for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages taken by Hamas.