The Slovenia Times

Slovenia to join UN General Assembly case against Israel

The International Court of Justice in The Hague. Photo: Hina/STA

Slovenia will participate in proceedings starting next month in which the UN General Assembly is seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legality of Israel's actions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The government decided for Slovenia to take part in the procedure at the Hague court on 11 January, the same day that hearings started at the same court in a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said Slovenia was one of few EU countries to have decided to actively participate in those proceedings and present its positions. The procedure was initiated by the UN General Assembly based on a December 2022 resolution, which Slovenia supported at the time.

Slovenia cannot join South Africa's case

Meanwhile, Fajon also told reporters that Slovenia was following the proceedings in the genocide case brought by South Africa with interest, but was not able to join the case at this stage.

She was speaking after after three MPs of the Left, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, called on the government to join South Africa's case against Israel at the ICJ.

Fajon said joining the case would be possible only later, once the court decided whether to deliberate on the case at all.

"Slovenia supports proceedings over the violation of the Genocide Convention in the case of both Ukraine and Palestine and, as an advocate for international law Slovenia fully supports the work of the International Court of Justice and is hopeful that it will rule on this case as soon as possible," she said.

Fajon hopes the court will call on Israel at an early stage of procedure to end the military operation because it could take several years for a final decision to be reached on the genocide accusation.

"Wide range" of accusation in upcoming case

Oral hearings in the separate proceedings initiated by the General Assembly over Israel's actions in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are scheduled to start at the IJC on 19 February. Slovenia will set out its arguments on 23 February.

The General Assembly asked the ICJ for an advisory opinion on the consequences of Israel's actions bearing on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and on the allegation that Israel has been violating the Palestinians' right to self-determination since 1967.

"This is an extremely wide range of alleged violations that have been committed in the region for decades and whose very devastating consequences are still visible today," said Fajon.

Fajon repeated her condemnation both of Hamas's violence in Israel and of Israel's army in Gaza.

"Gaza and the West Bank belong to the Palestinians," Fajon said. She called for further sanctions against the Islamist movement Hamas, while she also wants sanctions against violent Israeli settlers.

Israel denies Fajon's allegation on CNN

Appearing on the CNN show Isa Soares Tonight on 9 January, Fajon argued that Israel's strikes on Gaza were in violation of international humanitarian law. She said the number of Palestinian civilian casualties was too high, and reiterated her call for a two-state solution.

Dismissing her allegation, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN that the Israeli forces were doing all they could to prevent casualties, including by warning about attacks and ensuring safe corridors and areas.

This is particularly hard because Hamas is using Palestinian civilians and Israeli hostages as a human shield, Netanyahu's office said. This is Hamas's strategy and the international community should not allow it to succeed. Hamas is responsible for all civilian deaths, the office added.

Controversy over Hamas attack footage screening

The latest decisions on Slovenia's position in the Middle East conflict coincided with a controversy in Slovenia after Israel invited MPs to a screening of footage of Hamas's brutal terrorist attack on Israeli civilians on 7 October, which triggered the war in Gaza.

The invitations were handed out by Israeli Ambassador Zeev Boker to the parliamentary group of friends of Israel, but only opposition members attended the screening and meeting with the ambassador at the Parliament House on 10 January.

The Left called for the Israeli ambassador to be summoned over the matter, but both Fajon and the PM's office rejected the call and the party's argument that the invitation constituted interference in Slovenia's internal affairs.

Vojko Volk, a state secretary at the prime minister's office, said Slovenia wanted to preserve its dialogue with the Jewish community and Israel "because we want to contribute to ending the fighting and to peace for everybody in the Middle East".

He warned against excluding any side or turning down dialogue. "These can lead to new wounds and open the door to anti-Semitism mongering, which we reject unequivocally."

Israel also invited journalists and diplomats to a separate screening of the film. This was originally planned at the Jewish Cultural Centre in Ljubljana, but had to be moved to another location after the centre and the affiliated Mini Teater theatre company became the target of threats and violent calls for a boycott. The venue was vandalised with a black swastika in November.

"There should be no room in our society for intolerance. I condemn any actions based in intolerance or hatred," Fajon said in response to the threats against Mini Teater.


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