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Greek parliament backs Palestine recognition

Israeli official blasts nonbinding move, says Abbas’s pursuit of unilateral acknowledgement ‘won’t get him anywhere’

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, right, shakes hands with President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas before their meeting in Athens,  December 21, 2015. (AP/Petros Giannakouris)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, right, shakes hands with President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas before their meeting in Athens, December 21, 2015. (AP/Petros Giannakouris)

Greece’s parliament approved a resolution on Tuesday calling on the government to recognize the state of Palestine, in a special session attended by the visiting Palestinian Authority president.

All Greece’s parliamentary parties voted in favor of the move, the assembly’s president Nikos Voutsis said.

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.

Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras announced Monday after talks with PA President Mahmoud Abbas that Greece would no longer refer on official documents to the Palestinian Authority, but rather to Palestine.

Abbas’s visit to Greece signals the “strengthening” of traditionally historic ties between the two, the premier said.

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.

The parliamentary resolution is nonbinding, and does not constitute a full government recognition of Palestine as a state.

Still, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely condemned the Greek decision.

“The Palestinians and Abbas continue to choose the unilateral path to recognition that has no practical meaning,” she said. “Instead of stopping to fund and incite terrorism, Abbas is acting in a roundabout way that won’t get him anywhere.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, July 21, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, July 21, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

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 traveled to Israel and the West Bank last month and met with both Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Monday Abbas said the PA plans to change the name on passports it issues to the State of Palestine. Abbas said this will happen in about a year at the most, replacing the name Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian flag was hoisted for the first time at UN headquarters in New York on September 30 in a symbolic gesture. Abbas then took to the podium to call for universal recognition of Palestine.

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