Parliament approves defense agreement with Israel

Parliament approves defense agreement with Israel

Greek lawmakers on Tuesday ratified an agreement with Israel for the procurement of defense equipment and services that is seen as further strengthening ties between the two Eastern Mediterranean energy allies.

The agreement, said Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, builds on progress made with EastMed pipeline deal signed between Greece, Cyprus and Israel last year, and comes just a few weeks after Greek Prime Minster Kyriakos Mitsotakis headed a delegation of ministers and business representatives on a trip to Jerusalem, where he held talks with his counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

“We gave assurances to intensify contacts on the production of defense material with Israeli firms that are interested in synergies and cooperation, even on coproduction in Greece, with Greek defense companies,” said Panagiotopoulos. “I expect to see a significant amount of movement as of next month, with specific proposals being put on the table.”

The agreement was approved by lawmakers with ruling New Democracy, center-left Movement for Change and nationalist Greek Solution. Leftist SYRIZA, which initiated talks with Israel in 2016 for cooperation on energy, defense and security, voted “present,” while the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and leftist MeRA25 voted against the deal.

SYRIZA parliamentary spokeswoman Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou said the party was unable to vote in favor of the agreement in view of Israel’s West Bank annexation plans. Former prime minister Alexis Tsipras, she said, always sought during talks with Israeli officials to stress Greece’s position with regard to upholding the rights of the Palestinian people and the decisions of the United Nations.

“We did not hear Mr Mitsotakis make any such reference, even though his trip coincided with the expiration of the deadline Israel had set to activate its decision to annex Palestinian territory,” she added.

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