(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Greece's parliament approved a resolution yesterday calling on the government to recognise the state of Palestine, but Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras said Athens will judge when the time is right to make the formal move.
At a special session attended by visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, all parliamentary parties voted in favour of the move, speaker 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.
Abbas said he was proud to be in the Greek parliament, calling it "the sanctuary of democracy", and thanked the deputies for a vote he said would "contribute to the creation of a Palestinian state".
Deputy speaker Tassos Kourakis also called the resolution "an important step" towards the recognition of a Palestinian state.
Tsipras announced on Monday after talks with Abbas that Greece would no longer refer on official documents to the Palestinian Authority, but rather to Palestine.
The Palestinian Authority considers over 130 countries to have recognised Palestine as a state, although the number is disputed and several recognitions by what are now European Union member states date back to the Soviet era.
Nine EU members-the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Malta, Cyprus and Sweden-have so far recognised Palestine.
But no EU heavyweight has yet made the move.
Israel responded to the Greek vote by saying the Palestinians' "unilateral" efforts to secure recognition were meaningless.
"The Palestinians and Abu Mazen continue to choose the unilateral path to obtain recognition which has no meaning in practice," said deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely, using another name for Abbas.
"Instead of Abu Mazen ceasing to incite and fund terror he is following a flawed path that will lead him nowhere."
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 travelled to the region last month when he met both Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He said Abbas' visit to Greece signals the "strengthening" of traditionally historic ties between the two.
"Greece was committed to the installation of a viable, independent and sovereign Palestinian state based on borders set in 1967 and with East Jerusalem as its capital, a country that will coexist peacefully with Israel," Tsipras said.
However he added that Greece would "judge the right time" for recognising a state of Palestine, taking into account its "brotherly relations with the Arab people and ties of co-operation with Israel".
In Ramallah, the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, Saeb Erakat, the number two of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), welcomed the resolution.
"We truly hope that the Greek government will follow through with the parliament's decision and officially recognise a state of Palestine with the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital," he said.
Palestine's 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.