COMMENT

Athens walking a tightrope

By Alexis Papachelas

For years Israel has been going down the wrong path, a path that is leading to a strategic deadlock. The country’s current political leadership has nothing in common with the historic leaders of the nation in decades past. Those in power today hold extreme views. They are not at interested in reaching a settlement on the Palestinian issue and they show a blatant disregard for what the rest of the world has to say about their policies and the way that the current conflict is unfolding.

Israel’s electoral system has strengthened the hand of hardline parties. At the same time, the moderate, pro-peace voices of the past have fallen to silence. No reasonable person can possibly condone the views and the tactics of Hamas. That said, Israel’s settlement policy and the creation of an apartheid-like system around Gaza has naturally pushed a large section of the Palestinian people to frustration – a condition which, in turn, feeds fanaticism and extremism.

Meanwhile, many of the leaders of the Palestinians have been more interested in their own private well-being than the progress of their people. The two sides have, naturally, reached a serious deadlock.

Israel is losing its friends around the globe, the governments and the people who have in the past, and under very difficult circumstances, supported its right to exist and to protect its vital interests and the security of its citizens. Ongoing developments in Gaza, the rising death toll that has resulted from Israel’s offensives combined with the obvious unwillingness to come to a compromise solution with the Palestinians, leave little room for understanding.

Greece, for its part, is in a very difficult position vis-a-vis developments in the Middle East. The country’s strategic interests have in recent years mandated close – albeit not always overt – cooperation with Israel. This relationship has yielded fruit for Greek, as well as Cypriot interests. The rupture between Israel and Turkey is deepening and is unlikely to be remedied as long as Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains in power.

Regional developments in the area of energy have left Athens with little room for geopolitical maneuvering. The conservative-led government in Athens must now walk the tightrope between support for the basic rules of morality and justice on the one hand, and pragmatism on the other. It won’t be an easy task.

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