Minister Cerar meets Foreign Minister Al-Malki to discuss Gaza situation
Today Foreign Minister Cerar met Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Al-Malki, who is paying a working visit to Ljubljana. Regular dialogue with the Palestinians is important to Slovenia in order to fully understand events in Middle East and the situation in Palestine.
“Slovenia supports all NATO initiatives to reduce tensions with Israel. Our country, as an active member of the EU, advocates the position that a two-state solution is the only acceptable way out of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict: with Palestine within its 1967 borders and Jerusalem as the capital of both states. Unfortunately, the Middle East Peace Process has seen no progress for a long time. The constant changing of the conditions on the ground is not helping the search for a constructive political solution to the conflict,” said Minister Cerar.
“Slovenia's activity within the UN traditionally focuses on the protection and promotion of human rights, respect for international law, and human security. Slovenia supports Palestine’s efforts to join international organisations and create a Palestinian state,” added Cerar.
The ministers discussed opportunities to establish closer cooperation in business, culture and tourism. They also talked about security issues in the region and about the tensions in the Persian Gulf.
Slovenia is doing everything in its power in order to provide assistance to Gaza’s residents and alleviate the serious humanitarian crisis. Last December, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the largest humanitarian contribution so far for the construction of a desalination plant in Gaza. Slovenia will donate EUR 500,000 for the installation of the facility, and the European Commission will donate another EUR 70 million.
“My country is well aware of the mission and importance of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA),” Cerar stated. Slovenia is deeply concerned because the cuts in funding intended for the agency’s activity threaten the education of more than half a million children, he also added. From 2018 to 2020, Slovenia donated EUR 165,000 for the functioning of UNRWA.
The Palestinian minister expressed gratitude for Slovenian political support and help for the rehabilitation of victims of the Gaza conflict. Over the last ten years, 109 children seriously injured during the Gaza attacks have come to Slovenia’s Soča rehabilitation centre. Within the joint project carried out by the International Trust Fund – Enhancing Human Security (ITF) and by the Soča University Rehabilitation Institute (Soča URI), and another three hundred children are receiving medical treatment in Gaza. The foundation established by former Slovenian President Danilo Türk also helps Gaza’s children. With the help of the ITF, the foundation has brought approximately 170 children to Slovenia for rehabilitation.
“With the help of the ITF and Soča URI specialists, Slovenia is establishing a centre for the rehabilitation of victims affected by conflicts in the West Bank and Gaza at Harmala Hospital near Bethlehem,” added Minister Cerar. The centre is financed by the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), and the Foreign Ministry ensures staff training at Soča URI.
The Palestinian minister also met Dejan Židan, President of the National Assembly, Matjaž Nemec, chair of the National Assembly Committee on Foreign Policy, and Matej T. Vatovec, head of the Parliamentary Friendship Group with Palestine.