Parliament passes declaration on Palestine and Israel
The National Assembly has passed a 16-point declaration on the situation in Palestine and Israel in which Slovenia condemns Hamas's attack against Israel while denouncing any attacks by both Hamas and Israel on civilian targets and urging all sides to an immediate ceasefire.
The debate at the plenary session on 28 November ran along partisan lines after the wording was amended on the Foreign Policy Committee three weeks ago to designate Hamas a terrorist organisation rather than an "extremist Palestinian movement" as originally proposed by the ruling coalition, which tabled the declaration.
The committee however voted down an amendment that would highlight Iran's role in supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, as proposed by the opposition Democrats (SDS). In the final vote, the opposition did not vote in favour of the declaration but also did not vote against.
In general, the declaration expresses deep concern at the escalation of violence and conflict and the worsening humanitarian situation in the Middle East, which it says threaten and undermine stability, peace and security in the EU's immediate neighbourhood.
It condemns in the strongest terms the attack on Israel by Hamas and stresses that terrorism and violence are unacceptable.
It also condemns any attack by Hamas or Israel on civilian targets and stresses that attacks on civilians, UN personnel, medical workers and journalists constitute a serious violation of international law.
Support for two-state solution
The declaration recognises that Israel has the right under the UN Charter to defend itself and protect its citizens. However, it calls on Israel to respond to Hamas's attacks "in accordance with international and humanitarian law since the Palestinian civilian population cannot bear the consequences" of Hamas's terrorist acts.
This point was highlighted by centre-left coalition deputy groups with Lenart Žavbi of the Freedom Movement saying that they condemn Hamas's terrorist activities, but that their violence does not give Israel the right to collectively punish all Palestinians.
"In this conflict it has become clear that some have forgotten that wars have their rules, and that the right to self-defence is limited," he said.
Stressing the importance of distinguishing between the Palestinian people and their legitimate aspirations for a state of their own, and Hamas and its terrorist acts, the declaration also expresses Slovenia's "unwavering support for a negotiated two-state solution based on the 1967 borders".
The declaration also calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities, the non-targeting of civilian objects, the establishment of a ceasefire, the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, the immediate establishment of humanitarian corridors, and unimpeded access of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
Differences over aid
The document urges the Slovenian government to continue its humanitarian activities in the Gaza Strip and to continue to support efforts in the international community to resolve the conflict.
The opposition unsuccessfully pushed for an additional amendment that would urge the government to immediately stop all development cooperation payments to the Palestinian authorities and make sure Slovenian funding is not abused to indirectly support terrorist organisations.
Slovenia has continued to support Palestine since the start of the conflict, mostly through donations to various UN agencies.
SDS deputy Branko Grims argued that Hamas leaders were getting rich thanks to the aid that "a naive Europe and a naive Slovenia" are sending to the Palestinians, blaming Hamas for the humanitarian crisis because it is using the civilian population as a human shield.
New Slovenia (NSi) leader Matej Tonin on the other hand called for a "reasonable approach". "If we continue cheerleading for one side or the other, political forces and conflicts will continue to multiply and the conflict will last longer."
Time not ripe yet to recognise Palestine
He said now was not the right time to recognise Palestine, the only thing Slovenia can do was to support organisations, people and projects that work towards peace.
While the Left argued that Slovenia should recognise Palestine, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon, speaking to Slovenian reporters in New York, indicated this was not the priority at the moment although Slovenia was among the five or six countries "intensely working" on the recognition of Palestine.
No country will recognise Palestine at this time, Fajon said ahead of a special open UN Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East.
"First we have to ensure a permanent truce, stop violence, establish a truly strong Palestinian administration, and create conditions in which security is provided for both Palestinians and Israelis.
"I think there are significant ongoing efforts in this direction. We are talking to Arab countries, the Israeli Foreign Ministry and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to arrive at a two-state solution," said Fajon, who met Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian officials as she toured the Middle East on 24-25 November.