Slovenia's Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec..
(photo credit: YVES HERMAN / REUTERS)
Israeli diplomats are “working hard” in the Slovenian parliament and at the governmental level to block a move to recognize a Palestinian state, Foreign Ministry officials said on Tuesday.
The Foreign Affairs Committee in Slovenia’s parliament is scheduled to vote on a draft resolution on the issue on Wednesday, and if it is approved it is expected to go to a vote in the full parliament in March or April. Jerusalem is concerned that if it passes, it could pave the way to recognition by other EU states.
Unlike countries like Spain, Portugal, France and Ireland, where similar motions passed the parliament but the move was nonbinding on the government, the situation in Slovenia is different and if it passes the parliament, it would be tantamount to recognition by Slovenia, a Foreign Ministry official said.
There is disagreement in Slovenia’s senior political echelon over the move. Even though Slovenian President Borut Pahor – whose position is largely ceremonial – told AFP on Friday that he opposed the move, Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec supports it.
Erjavec said earlier this month that Slovenian recognition of a Palestinian state would “strengthen Palestine’s negotiation in the Middle East peace process.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas went to Brussels last week and – as a counterbalance to the US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – urged the EU’s 28 foreign ministers meeting there to recognize Palestine as a state.
After that meeting, Erjavec was quoted as saying that the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem was “a move away from the two-state solution,” and that “I think now is the right time for additional support for Palestine.”
Sweden recognized “Palestine” as a state in 2014, in a move that badly strained ties with Israel. Israel’s relationship with Slovenia is considered the weakest among the 11 former Iron Curtain countries that joined the EU following the fall of the Soviet Union.
Six of these other countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania – recognized Palestine as a state before they joined the EU, as did Malta and Cyprus, which are also now EU countries.