Abbas visits Greece, parliament mulls recognition

PA chairman to meet Greek PM Alexis Tsipras following reports that parliament is planning to vote on recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Ben Ariel,

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras meets PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras meets PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah
Reuters

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Athens on a two-day official visit on Sunday, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Abbas will meet with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday, and will speak at Greece's Parliament on Tuesday, according to the report.

Abbas’s visit to Greece comes as Tsipras' government is trying to balance improved relations with Israel with his party's longstanding support for a Palestinian state.

A recent report indicated that the Greek Parliament is set to join a host of European countries that have recognized the “state of Palestine” and hold a vote on the issue this coming Tuesday.

AP noted that the Greek parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee has unanimously called on the government to recognize Palestinian statehood.

Tsipras visited Israel last month, meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He also met with Abbas in Ramallah.

Following his election, concerns arose among Greek Jews that the election could jeopardize the relationship between Israel and Greece. The concerns were around the fact that two members of Tsipras’s Syriza party had been aboard the Mavi Marmara flotilla which attempted to break the "siege on Gaza" in 2010.

Tsipras later sought to assure the Israeli ambassador to Athens that Greek-Israeli relations will not change following his election, telling the ambassador that his government is determined to combat anti-Semitism in Greece and that it will continue to prosecute the leaders of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.

If Greece does indeed move to recognize “Palestine”, it will be the latest in a series of countries which have already done so.

Britain was the first country to vote to recognize “Palestine” last year. After Britain, Sweden announced it officially recognized the state of "Palestine".

Last December, Portugal's parliament adopted a resolution calling on the government to recognize a Palestinian state, though Portugal's Foreign Minister Rui Machete said after the vote the government "will choose the moment best suited" to recognize the Palestinian state.

Similar motions passed in France, Ireland, and Spain - but these moves are symbolic gestures and have little, if any, actual diplomatic effect.




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