Greek Parliament officially recognizes ‘Palestine’
The Greek parliament’s resolution was drawn up weeks ago, evidence that the move is not related to the understandings signed last week between Israeli and Turkish officials.
The Greek Parliament, as expected, became the latest European legislative body to recommend recognition of a Palestinian state, adopting the measure in a nearly unanimous show of support on Tuesday.
The vote took place during a special parliament meeting attended by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who addressed the body afterward. Several other European parliaments, such as those in Britain, Ireland and France, have passed similar motions to this non-binding resolution.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely responded quickly, issuing a statement saying that Abbas and the PA continue to choose unilateral steps to receive “recognition that has no practical significance.”
“Instead of Abu Mazen [Abbas] ending incitement and funding of terrorism, he goes on a twisted path that will lead him nowhere,” she said.
The move came amid a blooming of Israeli-Greek ties, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled to meet twice with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras next month – once at a government-to-government meeting in Jerusalem, and the next day at a trilateral summit in Nicosia with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
The Greek parliament’s resolution was drawn up weeks ago, apparently evidence that the move is not related to the understandings signed last week between Israeli and Turkish officials paving the way for a possible reconciliation between the two countries.
Nevertheless, Israeli officials said Netanyahu has assured both Greece and Cyprus that a normalization of ties with Turkey will in no way impact ties with them.
The Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported Monday that despite the move in parliament, Tsipras has indicated that recognizing a Palestinian state was not on the immediate horizon.
“When the time is deemed to be right, Greece will make the necessary steps,” he said.
Former Israeli ambassador Arye Mekel, now a senior research fellow at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said Tsipras is performing a very delicate “balancing act.”
On the one hand, he said, Tsipras has real interests with Israel – including a burgeoning security relationship and possible lucrative gas cooperation – but there is also discomfort in his radical left Syriza party on his moving closer to Israel.
“He has to give them something,” Mekel said. “So he gives them rhetoric, ceremonies and symbols. But his true interests are with Israel.”
Syriza was behind the state recognition resolution in parliament.
One manifestation of the real interests the two countries share will be seen in January, when Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is scheduled to make his first visit to the country.
Abbas praised the Greek vote, calling it an encouraging step for the Palestinians.
During his subsequent speech to the parliament, he said it was symbolic of the “humanitarian relations between the Greek and Palestinian peoples.”
Abbas called on all countries to follow suit
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