On Tuesday 22nd December, the Greek parliament unanimously voted to recognise Palestine as an independent state. The vote came amid a visit from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to Athens. The resolution recognises a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The historic resolution was adopted in the presence of Palestinian leader Abbas. In his speech before the Greek parliament he stated that “Greek parliament’s initiative further contributes to the foundation of the Palestinian state.”
Greece now joins dozens of other countries and is one of nine EU member states that accords recognition to Palestine. The momentum to recognise Palestine as a state is increasing. Sweden was the last EU country to recognise Palestine’s independence. After Sweden’s official move, Sweden’s foreign minister Margot Wallstrom said, “We hope that this will show the way for others.” Seven other European countries have recognised Palestine: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Slovakia, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania. An overwhelming majority of countries in Africa, Asia and South America have also recognised the state of Palestine. A total of 136 countries have now made the move.
Since its election last January, Tsipras’ government had made a promise to recognise Palestine as a state. Following the decision, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced that “Palestinian Authority” would be replaced by “Palestine” in all Greek government documentation. Nonetheless the resolution is considered symbolic as it is non-binding. Greek officials have also maintained that the vote “will not disturb good relations with Israel.”
It is great to see more European countries moving towards recognising a Palestinian state. Greece’s move shows more states are willing to work towards peace and a viable solution to the Palestinian issue.