Slovenia's government recognises Palestinian state, needs parliamentary approval

Slovenian government passes decision about recognition of Palestinian state to parliament in Ljubljana

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

The move drew swift condemnation from Israel.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the decision rewarded Hamas for murder and rape, a reference to the Palestinian Islamist group's Oct. 7 attack on Israel that sparked the war in Gaza.

"Today the government has decided to recognise Palestine as an independent and sovereign state," Golob 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.

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

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 recognised 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 recognised 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 recognise a Palestinian state.

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

Israel has been fighting against Hamas, which rules Gaza, since the 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.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Sharon Singleton)