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Republic of Slovenia and State of Palestine establish diplomatic relations

Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Tanja Fajon handed over a note to the Palestinian ambassador, Salah Abdel-Shafi, on the diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state and the simultaneous establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Slovenia and the State of Palestine.

"The ambassador and I talked about how Slovenia and the international community can contribute to the resumption of negotiations on the ceasefire, the release of hostages and the protection of civilians. The next diplomatic steps are for the Slovenian Prime Minister to attend the humanitarian conference in Jordan and negotiations on a US resolution in the Security Council for a ceasefire and the release of hostages. Slovenia will insist on maintaining pressure on Israel and the international community to achieve a lasting ceasefire in Gaza as soon as possible," said Minister Tanja Fajon at the handover of the diplomatic note.

Palestinian ambassador Salah Abdel-Shafi thanked Slovenia for its principled stance on respect for international law and defence of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, calling Slovenia's recognition of the State of Palestine an important contribution to peace.

Slovenia recognises a Palestinian state

On 9 May 2024, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia initiated procedures for the recognition of Palestine, taking a decisive and irreversible step in the process. "Slovenia has taken this step to send a clear message about the need for peace in the Middle East and a two-state solution," said Foreign Minister Fajon.

On 30 May 2024, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted a draft decision recognising Palestine as an independent and sovereign state and sent it to the National Assembly for approval. In an extraordinary session on 4 June, the National Assembly adopted by 52 votes to none the decision that the Republic of Slovenia recognises the independent and sovereign State of Palestine, making Slovenia the 147th member of the United Nations to do so.

The following day, on 5 June 2024, Foreign Minister Fajon handed over a note to the Palestinian ambassador Salah Abdel-Shafi in Ljubljana on the diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state and the simultaneous establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Slovenia and the State of Palestine.

Why now

We cannot – and must not – wait any longer.  The recognition of Palestine as a state is the final confirmation of Slovenia's long-standing position that a lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East can only be achieved through a two-state solution.

Minister Tanja Fajon at the National Assembly

The war in Gaza has already left more than 36,000 dead and 80,000 injured, half of them children. More than ten thousand are missing. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is desperate. Minister Fajon called it a "hell on earth" where two children die every 10 minutes. Despite appeals from the international community ceasefire negotiations have failed and fighting and violence against civilians continues undeterred by an appeal from the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Since the Oslo Accords 30 years ago, many countries have pursued the strategy that the recognition of Palestine would follow a peace agreement, which unfortunately has not worked.

Convinced that the achievement of peace and stability in the region is based on a two-state solution to the Palestinian question, whereby the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination must first be recognised and guaranteed, Slovenia initiated procedures for the recognition of Palestine on 9 May 2024. The only possible solution for Israel and Palestine is a political settlement of two states living side by side in peace and security.

In early June 2024, UN human rights experts also called on all countries to recognise Palestine as a precondition for lasting peace in Palestine and the wider Middle East.

By recognising Palestinian statehood, Slovenia sends a clear signal to others to follow the example of Norway, Spain, Ireland, Slovenia and other countries that have already recognised a Palestinian state. This is a strong message to all the moderate forces who are now losing power in this long and brutal conflict. Recognition allows the process towards a two-state solution to continue, and is a way to bring about a ceasefire through political pressure and diplomatic efforts.  

"There is no peace process leading to a political solution and the recognition of Palestine, but there are two peoples who do not live in security. The death toll is rising and the conflict is spreading beyond the region. Palestine is totally dependent on foreign aid and fundamental rights are virtually non-existent. Terrorism and violence by Hamas and other militant groups are undermining the trust that is essential for a lasting peace. The prospects of constructing a viable Palestinian state are weakened by the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements. There is a growing sense of hopelessness among Palestinians. The situation in the Middle East is at an all-time low. All of this calls for an immediate and different kind of solution," said Minister Tanja Fajon.

Condemning terrorism and recognising Israel's legitimate right to self-defence under international law, Slovenia believes that a two-state solution is in the best interest of Israel, with which it maintains dynamic relations, as it will help build a more peaceful, secure and stable region.

The recognition of a Palestinian state means that Slovenia considers Palestine to be an independent state with the rights and obligations that such recognition entails. This includes Slovenia's expectation that relations between Israel and Palestine will be based on the rules of international law on independence, equality and peaceful coexistence. Slovenia's recognition of a Palestinian state does not imply any form of recognition of or support for Hamas.

Why two states?

The two-state solution proposed by the UN in 1947 remains the best road to peace in the Middle East, as direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have so far failed to produce results.

There is also a broad international consensus – in the US, the EU and China, as well as in Arab, African, Asian and Latin American countries – that a two-state solution is the only way to bring lasting peace and stability to both Israelis and Palestinians.

Just as Israelis have their own state and the right to live in peace, Palestinians have the inalienable right to self-determination and their own state in which to live in peace. There can be no two-state solution without a Palestinian state. Palestine and Israel must have equal status in the UN.

Minister Tanja Fajon at the UN

In April 2024, 143 countries, including Slovenia, supported Palestinian membership of the UN at the UN General Assembly. 

In recent decades, the Palestinians have taken important steps towards a two-state solution. In 2011, the World Bank found that Palestine had met the key criteria for a functioning state. National institutions have been established to provide basic services to the population. However, the continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the fighting in Gaza have made the situation in Palestine more difficult.

It is therefore essential to step up international pressure for a two-state solution, because our common goals must be the coexistence of the two peoples and political, economic and social peace in the Middle East.

Slovenia's recognition of the State of Palestine does not prejudge the border between Israel and Palestine. The territorial demarcation should be based on the 1967 lines (UN Resolution 2334 of 2016 established that the borders between Israel and Palestine are the 1967 borders and cannot be unilaterally changed by Israel) or any other borders agreed between Israel and Palestine in the peace process.

The road to peace and Slovenia's expectations

As a responsible member of the EU and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Slovenia will continue to work with like-minded countries for an immediate ceasefire and the release of the hostages.

Minister Tanja Fajon

Slovenia supports peace initiatives, including the Arab vision for a solution to the Palestinian question developed by key regional actors after 7 October 2023 and the three-phase deal for the release of hostages and an end to the war in Gaza presented by US President Joe Biden on 31 May 2024. The sum of all these steps leads to progress towards a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is an irreversible process towards the strengthening of the Palestinian Authority, credible security guarantees for Israel and the reconstruction of Gaza after the war.

“The official government of Palestine is the Palestinian Authority, which currently has authority only in the West Bank but represents Palestine in the international community. This government has no connection with Hamas,” Tanja Fajon stressed.

Slovenia will support the Palestinian state-building project. We expect the (new) Palestinian government to continue its efforts to implement democratic reforms, strengthen the judiciary and fight corruption. We must strive for a single government to govern Gaza after the ceasefire, which must be politically united and come from the Palestinian Authority.

Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Fajon also backed the renewal of the EU's support mission at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt: “We support all efforts to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches civilians in Gaza. We will also work to ensure that Slovenia participates in the evacuation of patients from Gaza, as requested by EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič and EU Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides. We also plan to continue the rehabilitation programme for children injured in the Gaza war.”

On 11 June, the Slovenian prime minister will represent Slovenia at an international humanitarian conference in Jordan to identify ways to strengthen the international community's response to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

Slovenia will continue to support the implementation of humanitarian assistance in the region through humanitarian organisations such as UNRWA and WFP, as well as through projects such as child rehabilitation, capacity building and mine clearance implemented by ITF Enhancing Human Security.