One of the most sensitive issues, besides domestic problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), is the Palestinian one. Half the state shows empathy for the suffering of the innocent and condemns Israel, but politics shows a different reality and complexity of those relations.
Our country was on “quiet fire” almost 10 years ago, when it was a non-permanent member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council. Palestine then applied for full membership in the UN, lobbying was on all sides, so the voice of BiH was extremely important. Pro-Bosnian politics supported Palestine back then, while the support from the Republika Srpska (RS) entity went to the side of Israel, but great attention was paid to what the United States (U.S.) would say about our country’s decision.
The U.S. is on the side of Israel, so the voice of BiH was between two fires. Emotion and support of end of the years-long suffering of the Palestinian people who were desperate for the state, the political interest, and confrontation with the U.S. At the time, Palestine was not accepted as a full member, but it did become an observer country a year later.
Even ten years after, the same target – the same distance. The new suffering of innocent citizens in Gaza lead to sending messages of moral encouragement and empathy for the innocent from Sarajevo, while Banja Luka showed official support to Israel in the fight against terrorism (Hamas).
Thus, our country is in a stalemate, as in the Kosovo issue, where the RS government does not recognize Kosovo, and the FBiH has nothing against it and they consider that country independent. Therefore, there is no consensus at the state level.
When it comes to the Palestinian issue, it is the same situation, only with the reverse positions. Pro-Bosnian parties support Palestine as an independent state, and the RS entity defies with support for Israel. To make the paradox bigger, Israel has officially recognized Kosovo as an independent state, which the RS authorities do not accept at all.
There is a Palestinian embassy in BiH, and relations between the two countries have lasted for more than two decades through the culture, education sector (scholarships for Palestinians in BiH), and, in part, tourism. On the other hand, Israel does not have an embassy in our country, but it is covered through Albania. However, Israel has had much better relations with the RS authorities for the past two decades, and this entity also had a representative office in Israel.
The Middle East and region
When it comes to our region, Israel has had improved relations with Croatia in past years.
If we look at the support regarding the latest events in Gaza, Israel immediately got open support in Europe from right-wing governments, so Hungary and Slovenia emphasized their commitment, and so did Austria. BiH does not have a consensus on this issue, so support is divided. Verbal and unofficial messages of encouragement go from Sarajevo to Palestine, but it is questionable how BiH would vote to find itself in a position to choose between Israel and Palestine. In this regard, some other things come to the fore, and above all the relationship with the U.S., a country that is still the most important world partner for BiH.
How Tito’s Yugoslavia cut off relations with Israel in 1967
If we look at the past, we will see that Tito’s Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) supported Israel in the process of its formation, and even provided some material support. However, with the development of the Non-Aligned Movement, Yugoslavia distanced itself from Israel, and in 1967, after Israel’s six-day war with Arab countries, primarily Egypt, diplomatic relations were severed.
Yugoslavia then handed Israel the following note:
“The SFRY government states that the Israeli government ignored the warning of the SFRY government expressed in its note to the Israeli embassy in Belgrade on June 11th and that it continued to take activities that clearly confirm that the Israeli government continues to perform aggression against Arab countries. The SFRY government then decided to sever the diplomatic relations of the SFRY with Israel, reiterating that the responsibility for all the consequences arising from all of this exclusively goes on the Government of Israel.”
Until the end of the SFRY’s existence, diplomatic relations were not re-established. The successor states of the “other Yugoslavia” : BiH, Croatia, Macedonia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and Slovenia – did so only after independence.
The official position of BiH on Palestinian-Israeli relations is a solution that includes two states, Palestine and Israel since that position is in line with UN resolutions. Nevertheless, the situation on the field complicates such ideas, because Hamas, which the EU and the U.S. consider a terrorist organization, manages Gaza and denies the existence of Israel at all. In parallel, with the shelling of the territory of Israel, it enters into a direct conflict where the innocent citizens who are suffering have been dealt with a tough hand, Klix