Slovenia’s government recognizes Palestinian state, needs parliamentary approval

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The Slovenian government on Thursday approved a decision to recognize an independent Palestinian state, Prime Minister Robert Golob said, following in the steps of Spain, Ireland and Norway.

“Today the government has decided to recognize Palestine as an independent and sovereign state,” he said at a news conference in Ljubljana.

The parliament of the European Union member country must also approve the government’s decision in coming days.

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Slovenian lawmakers are to vote Tuesday on whether to recognize a Palestinian state, the parliament speaker said.

“The session is scheduled for Tuesday from 4:00 pm (1400 GMT),” parliament speaker Urska Klakocar Zupancic told a press conference in Ljubljana.

The move is part of a wider effort by countries to coordinate pressure on Israel to end the conflict in Gaza.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz denounced the Slovenian government’s decision, saying it rewarded Hamas for murder and rape, a reference to the Palestinian group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

In a statement, Katz said the move also strengthened Israel’s arch-enemy Iran and damaged “the close friendship between the Slovenian and Israeli people.”

He added: “I hope the Slovenian parliament rejects this recommendation.”

Golob also called for the immediate cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and the release of all hostages.

“This is the message of peace,” he said.

The Slovenian government raised a Palestinian flag alongside the flags of Slovenia and the EU in front of its building in downtown Ljubljana.

On May 28, Spain, Ireland and Norway officially recognized a Palestinian state, prompting an angry reaction from Israel.

Of the 27 members of the European Union, Sweden, Cyprus, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria have already recognized a Palestinian state. Malta has said it could follow soon.

Britain and Australia have said they are also considering recognition, but France has said now is not the time.

Germany joined Israel’s staunchest ally, the United States, in rejecting a unilateral approach, insisting that a two-state solution can only be achieved through dialogue.

Denmark’s parliament on Tuesday voted down a bill to recognize a Palestinian state.

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Norway, which chairs the international donor group to the Palestinians, had until recently followed the US position but has lost confidence that this strategy will work.

Israel has been fighting against Hamas, which rules Gaza, since a cross-border Oct. 7 attack by militants in which some 1,200 people were killed and over 250 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies. Nearly 130 hostages are believed to remain captive in Gaza.

Gaza health authorities say more than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war over the past seven months.

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