Slovenia opposition demands referendum on Palestinian state recognition, could delay parliament vote

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — The main opposition party in Slovenia on Monday filed a motion demanding a referendum on the government decision to recognize a Palestinian state, which could delay the formal recognition vote in parliament.

Slovenia's government last week endorsed a motion to recognize a Palestinian state and sent the proposal to parliament for a final approval. This was due on Tuesday but parliament could now postpone it up to 30 days.

Slovenia’s move came just days after Spain, Norway and Ireland recognized a Palestinian state, which was condemned by Israel.

The right-wing Slovenian Democratic Party demanded a so-called consultative referendum on the recognition bid, arguing that the citizens should have a say on such an important issue that could have serious consequences for Slovenia.

The SDS party leader Janez Jansa said the move by the liberal government “gives support to the terrorist organization Hamas.”

The ruling coalition of Prime Minister Robert Golob holds a comfortable majority in Slovenia's 90-member assembly. Lawmakers must approve the recognition of the Palestinian state for the decision to take effect.

Parliament is expected to reject the SDS motion for the holding of the consultative referendum.

Jansa's SDS is biggest opposition party in Slovenia. The party's referendum motion comes just days before the European parliamentary elections which will be held in Slovenia on June 9.

Slovenia first began the recognition process in early May, but said it would wait until the situation in the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza improved. Golob said he was speeding up the process in reaction to Israel’s latest attacks on Rafah, which have caused more than 1 million Palestinians to flee.

More than 140 countries recognize a Palestinian state — more than two-thirds of the United Nations.

Israel launched the assault following the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack in which militants stormed across the Gaza border into Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostage. Israel’s air and land attacks have since killed 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between combatants and civilians.