The Slovenia Times

Government launches procedure to recognise Palestine

A Palestinian flag at the UN headquarters in New York. Photo: Xinhua/STA

The government has launched procedures for Slovenia to recognise Palestinian statehood in what Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon described as a first, irreversible step. The government will submit the recognition motion to the National Assembly by 13 June.

"Today, the government has taken a first step, an important step towards the recognition of an independent, sovereign state of Palestine," Fajon said as she came out of the cabinet meeting on 9 May.

She expressed the hope that the procedures will be completed as soon as possible, as Slovenia wants to help ensure an end to the horrors in Gaza, a lasting ceasefire, an agreement on the release of hostages, the security of Israel and peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Fajon added that progress in the region would be monitored, as the aim was not just recognition as a symbolic act, but to bring about a calming of the situation, an end to the war.

Decision based on 1967 borders

The government's decision is based on the 1967 borders between Israel and Palestine, which means that Palestine would comprise the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

She also pointed out that the recognition was certainly not a recognition of the "terrorist organisation Hamas". "On the contrary, it is about empowering a renewed Palestinian Authority that will also be able to exercise control over Gaza from Ramallah", she said.

Fajon had previously written on X that Slovenia is thus sending a clear message about the urgent need for peace in the Middle East and for a two-state solution.

After the government meeting, she expressed the hope that Slovenia would be followed by like-minded countries.

Prime Minister Robert Golob described the recognition of Palestinian statehood as a lever for pressure to end the fighting in Gaza. The horrors in Gaza are intolerable and must end, he said.

The launch of recognition procedures comes attached with expectations towards everybody involved - for instance in terms of progress in the cease-fire talks, the release of hostages, and progress in the reform of the Palestinian Authority.

If progress is fast, Slovenia will complete the recognition process more quickly, the motion will however be submitted to parliament by 13 June at the latest, Golob said.

He pointed out that Slovenia, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, had a much greater responsibility than it would have had in the past.

"Today's act is under the scrutiny of the whole world," he said, explaining that Slovenia's decision was a balancing act between the interests of the West, the Arab world and all other UN members.

The step comes after the prime ministers of Slovenia, Spain, Ireland and Malta adopted on the margins of an EU summit in March a joint declaration expressing their readiness to recognise Palestine when this can be done effectively and when the circumstances are right.

Opposition against the move

In Slovenia, the proposal for recognition of an independent state is drawn up by the government and is then submitted for approval to the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee and then to the National Assembly.

Simple majority is sufficient and support for recognition among the ruling coalition parties has been long-standing, albeit with the caveat of having to wait for the right moment and for wider support for greater effect.

The two opposition parties do not support the launch of procedures for recognition, arguing the move will not contribute to de-escalating the situation in the region but quite the opposite.

Janez Janša, the leader of the Democrats (SDS), said the timing was not right. Recognising an entity where Hamas, which carried out a terrorist attack on another country last year, is in power looks like a reward for an act of terrorism, he said.

He described the move as populist in the context of domestic politics, which he said will prove harmful for Slovenia in the medium-term.

Matej Tonin, the head of New Slovenia (NSi), said Slovenia will only "wash its hands like Pontius Pilate".

His party believes that a ceasefire and peace in the Middle East should be achieved first, followed by new elections to give credibility to the Palestinian authorities, and only then could the establishment of a state and the recognition of Palestine follow.

Meanwhile, President Nataša Pirc Musar supports the recognition of Palestinian statehood. "In this way Slovenia would send out a message that what is happening in Gaza at the moment is not right," she said.

Spain and Ireland are expected to recognise Palestine as an independent country on 21 May, but the date remains to be confirmed.

Mounting public pressure for recognition

A poll carried by the newspaper Dnevnik in April showed 57% of those questioned supporting recognition of Palestinian statehood, against 20% who opposed the move. The public pressure for the step has been mounting too.

The government's decision comes as a peaceful sit-in protest in support of the Palestinians continues at the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences.

The protest began on 8 May and one of the protesters estimated that between 40 and 50 students spent the night in one of the lecture halls, and there are currently about 100 students there.

The students, who intend to persist until their demands are met, want the faculty and the University of Ljubljana to take a clear stance on the developments in Gaza and condemn genocide. They also want the University of Ljubljana to end cooperation with Israel's Bar-Ilan University.

The faculty has expressed support for peaceful protests for peace and tolerance, as well as concern and dismay over the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in the Gaza Strip.

It strongly condemned the use of violence against civilians, violations of international law of war and humanitarian law and the deliberate creation of an inhumane humanitarian situation in Gaza, while also stressing that Israel's right to self-defence has its humanitarian and legal limits, which have been overstepped in the case of Gaza.

A group of more than 350 public figures has addressed a petition to the prime minister and the foreign minister, urging them to recognise Palestine, or resign.

"Slovenia must recognise Palestine ... within weeks, by the end of May at the latest, which is as long as relevant procedures would take," write the group, involving a number of university professors, scholars, journalists, writers, poets and other figures.


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