Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Even as Israel and Greek ties reach new highs with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled to meet twice next month with Greece’s leader, Alexis Tsipras, the Greek parliament is expected to call on its government on Tuesday to recognize a Palestinian state.
The declaration is expected to take place after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who will meet with Prime Minister Tsipras on Monday, addresses the Greek parliament.
According to the website of the Greek daily Kathimerini
, the speaker of the Greek parliament will read out a non-binding symbolic resolution, unanimously approved by the parliament’s defense and foreign affairs committee last Thursday, that calls on the government to recognize Palestine as a state.
The resolution was drawn up by the governing radical left-wing Syriza party.
Last week, Kathimerini reported that the resolution is similar to ones passed last year by the French and British parliaments – which were also non-binding and symbolic – rather than the one passed by Sweden in October 2014 that paved the way for Swedish government recognition of “Palestine,” something that severely soured ties with Israel.
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 paving the way for reconciliation between the two countries.
Israeli-Greek ties, as well as Israel’s relationship with Cyprus, really began to flourish following the deterioration in ties between Ankara and Jerusalem. Strong Israeli-Greek relations have now survived three different governments, from the Right, Left and far Left.
Israel and Greece are scheduled to hold a government-to-government meeting in Jerusalem on January 27, headed by Netanyahu and Tsipras. The next day, the two are to meet again, with their Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades, in Nicosia, to discuss gas and regional security issues.
Tsipras was in Israel in November for the first time and met Netanyahu, after which he met him again briefly at the Paris climate change conference at the end of the month.
While in Israel, Tsipras also went to Ramallah for a meeting with Abbas.
One senior Israeli government official said the relationship with Greece is very strong and that the parliamentary resolution will not detract from this.
“The problem,” the official said, “is that Abbas goes around the world and seeks these sorts of declarations, but by refusing to negotiate with Israel, he is actually preventing peace talks that will allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
People who want to see two states for two peoples, he said, “should not allow him [Abbas] to play this game, and should demand that he return to negotiations without preconditions.”