By Magda Panaotsoupolou
Greek parliament has unanimously adopted a resolution urging its government to recognize the Palestinian state.
The historic resolution was adopted in the presence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the parliament Tuesday.
In his speech before the Greek parliament, Abbas said the Greek government's step towards recognizing the State of Palestine would be recorded in history. "Greek parliament's initiative further contributes to the foundation of the Palestinian state," he said.
He expressed the gratitude of the Palestinian people. "We are very proud that we are here at the bastion of the Greek democracy," he said. He also noted the recent visit of the Greek prime minister to Palestine and hoped to welcome the president of Greece and the Greek parliament's president in the near future.
In comments made before the decision, Abbas in a reception hosted by the president of the House, Nikos Voutsis, expressed his appreciation for the recognition.
"We feel that we are in our house, the house of Greek democracy, and we thank you very much and, God willing, further steps will follow for strengthening of the relations of the Greek and Palestinian people,” he said.
The Palestinian president's speech is at the moment ongoing at the Greek parliament’s Senate chamber.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), an umbrella group led by Abbas' Fatah party, also thanked the Greek parliament "for siding with peace and justice."
"We call on the Greek government and other governments to follow suit and to officially recognize the independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital in the immediate future and work to end Israel’s military occupation,” said Hanan Ashrawi, head of the PLO's Department of Culture and Information.
In 2012, Palestine was recognized by the UN as a non-member observer state.
Two years later, an unprecedented international support for the symbolic recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders was voiced out.
This support was brought about by a series of motions adopted by a number of European parliaments. The Swedish parliament was the first to catalyze the momentum of recognition of the Palestinian state earlier.
In October 2014, Sweden officially recognized the State of Palestine, becoming the first European Union state to take such a move.
In this, however, Sweden was the eighth European state to recognize the Palestinian state after the Czech Republic; Hungary; Poland; Bulgaria; Romania; Malta, and Greek Cypriot administration, which made their recognition some time before they became European Union members.
While Sweden was the 135th state to recognize the state of Palestine, its 2014 move reverberated in many European capitals.
In October 2014, Britain's House of Commons adopted a non-binding resolution, urging the government to recognize the state of Palestine.
A month later, the Spanish Parliament voted with an overwhelming majority on a non-binding resolution, urging Madrid to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
France followed suit on Dec. 2, 2014, after a majority of French lawmakers approved a non-binding resolution, calling on Paris to recognize the Palestinian state.
On Dec. 11, 2014,, the Irish parliament adopted a non-binding bill, urging the Irish government to recognize Palestine. A day later, the Portuguese parliament took a similar step.
In February 2015, the parliaments of Belgium and Italy adopted similar resolutions.
The overwhelming majority of countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America have also recognized the state of Palestine, making up most of the 135 countries who had taken the move.
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