Greek parliament backs recognizing Palestine
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech during a parliamentary session at the Greek parliament in Athens on December 22, 2015. AFP photoGreece’s parliament approved a resolution on Dec. 22 calling on the government to recognize the state of Palestine, in a special session attended by the visiting Palestinian president.
All Greece’s parliamentary parties voted in favor of the move, Agence France-Presse quoted the assembly’s speaker Nikos Voutsis as saying.
It urges the Greek government to “promote appropriate procedures for the recognition of a Palestinian state and every diplomatic effort for the resumption of discussions for peace” in the region, Voutsis added.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said he was “proud to be in the Greek parliament,” calling it “the sanctuary of democracy.” He thanked the deputies for a vote he said would “contribute to the creation of a Palestinian state.”
The Greek parliament’s deputy speaker Tassos Kourakis also called the resolution “an important step towards the recognition of a Palestinian state.”
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced Dec. 21 after talks with Abbas that Greece would no longer refer on official documents to the Palestinian Authority, but rather to Palestine.
Abbas’ visit to Greece signals the “strengthening” of traditionally historic ties between the two, the premier said.
“Greece was committed to the installation of a viable, independent and sovereign Palestinian state based on borders set in 1967 and with East Jerusalem as its capital, a country that will coexist peacefully with Israel,” Tsipras said.
In Ramallah, headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, Saeb Erakat, the number two of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), welcomed the resolution.
“We truly hope that the Greek government will follow through with the parliament’s decision and officially recognize a state of Palestine with the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.
Athens has forged closer ties with Israel in recent years, especially in the field of energy, while retaining its traditionally good relations with the Palestinians.
Tsipras travelled to Israel last month when he met both Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Greece will “judge the right time” for recognizing a state of Palestine, taking into account its “brotherly relations with the Arab people and ties of cooperation with Israel,” Tspiras added.
Palestine’s flag was hoisted for the first time at U.N. headquarters in New York on Sept. 30 in a symbolic gesture.
Abbas then took to the podium to call for universal recognition of Palestine.