Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories on Tuesday, a foreign ministry announcement said on Monday.
Dendias will hold meetings with Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, with his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi and with his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al Maliki.
Dendias will also take part in the urgent teleconference of EU Foreign Ministers called by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell about the developments in the region. Later, he will go to Jordan to meet with his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi.
Finally, on Thursday Dendias will visit Cairo where he will meet with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry.
Earlier on Monday, Dendias had a meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ahead of his imminent visits, the same announcement said.
Diplomatic sources on Dendias’ visit to Israel, Palestine
Greece, as a pillar of stability and champion of promoting security and prosperity in the wider region, is actively involved in the diplomatic developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, diplomatic sources said on Monday.
In this context, they reported that Foreign Minister Dendias will be holding a series of meetings with his counterparts in the region and will be the first EU member-state Foreign Minister to visit Israel and the Palestinian Territories since the start of the recent crisis.
Finally, they underlined that the meeting with the Patriarch of Jerusalem indicates Greece’s justifiable interest in the protection of the Holy Pilgrimages and preservation of their status.
Diplomatic calls for ceasefire in Israel mount
Greece’s initiative comes as Israel conducted dozens of air strikes on the Gaza Strip on Monday, after Palestinian militants fired barrages of rockets at southern Israeli cities.
The pre-dawn raids on Gaza were some of the heaviest seen since the fighting began a week ago.
Israel said it hit facilities belonging to the militant group Hamas and several commanders’ homes, but main roads and power lines were also damaged.
The overall death toll in the territory now stands at 198, including 58 children and 34 women, with 1,230 injured, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Israel says more than 130 militants are among the dead — but Hamas has not acknowledged this.
International calls for a ceasefire in the ugly confrontation have continued to mount.
Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said on Monday that his country was “going to great lengths to reach a ceasefire… and hope still exists.”
The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Sunday, and Secretary-General António Guterres warned that further fighting had “the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis.”
He pleaded for an immediate end to what he called the “utterly appalling” violence.