Nearly alone among European leaders, Milorad Dodik, the President of Republika Srpska (the Bosnian Serb Republic), has expressed unqualified support for Israel and its counter-terror operation in the wake of ongoing Palestinian rocket fire.
In a letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Dodik condemned the rocket attacks against Israel and noted his “complete understanding and support for Israel’s determination to respond to terrorist threats and actions in order to protect the safety of its citizens and their property”.
“The terrorist threats and actions of extreme Islamist groups are a threat to the entire world community,” Dodik pointed out, adding that Israel is on the front lines in confronting this menace.
Bosnia’s Serbs, Dodik said, “deeply and sincerely sympathize with the friendly people of the State of Israel”, and asked Netanyahu to “please accept our profound respect, support and compassion for your people”.
Not to be confused with its sovereign neighbor Serbia, Republika Srpska is one of two autonomous political entities which constitute Bosnia. The other is known as the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina, and is under joint Muslim and Croat rule.
Dodik has been a longtime friend and supporter of Israel, which he has visited in the past.
In November 2011, when the Palestinian Authority sought UN membership as a state, the deciding vote on the Security Council belonged to Bosnia. Although the Muslim and Croatian part of Bosnia backed the Palestinian bid, Republika Srpska opposed it, which led the Bosnian delegation to the UN to withhold support for the Palestinian cause.
With a population numbering 1.5 million people, Republika Srpska has its own president, parliament, executive branch and Supreme Court. Its capital is based in the city of Banja Luka in northwestern Bosnia, which is home to a small Jewish community.