Greece supports the creation of a Palestinian state based on the borders of 1967 and with East Jerusalem as its capital, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday in statements after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Tsipras noted that Greece’s position on the Palestinian issue was one of “principle” and independent of the country’s efforts to develop bilateral ties with Israel. Abbas referred to the “historic foundations” of Greek-Palestinian relations and appealed to Greeks to support the Palestinian people’s demand to live in dignity in their homeland, within their own independent state.

Tsipras said that destabilisation and conflicts in the region are increasing and that the Palestinian issue was among the causes sparking destabilisation.”For this reason, it is necessary to take bold steps today and support any international initiative,” he said. In this framework, he added, Athens welcomed any effort made by President Abbas in this direction. Following the talks, it was announced that Greece and the Palestinian Authority are to form a joint ministerial committee to strengthen relations and that Abbas will visit Athens on December 21 – 22.

Tsipras concluded his visit to Israel and Palestine after meeting with Patriarch Theophilos III, during which the PM hailed the contribution of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem to interfaith dialogue at an especially critical time. Welcoming the PM, the Patriarch noted that his visit is especially important at this time when Christians in the region are facing difficulties and are looking to Greece for protection.