NEWS

Israel pivotal in Greece’s defense plans

israel-pivotal-in-greece-amp-8217-s-defense-plans

At the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign and Defense ministries, top officials are engaged in a two-pronged sustained effort to expand Greece’s alliances in the wider region and upgrade its defense capabilities.

In these efforts, and especially on defense, Israel is emerging as a pivotal ally, high-ranked sources in government tell Kathimerini.

Last week, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made a day trip to Israel to meet with his counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu. The two discussed defense cooperation, tourism, research and development and economic cooperation, a dense agenda that used to take days.

Israel wants to sell Greece weapons and systems that would give Greece a “qualitative edge” in its region, the same sources said. Among the projects discussed are a new rifle for the Hellenic Army, high-precision projectiles and systems to counter unmanned aerial vehicles and drones – two types of vehicles that Turkey is heavily investing on.

Israel does not wish to see its already difficult relations with Turkey deteriorate further, but neither will it sacrifice regional alliances to improve those relations. In any case, its officials believe that any efforts by Ankara for a rapprochement are mostly designed to appeal to the new US administration and lack substance.

On the other hand, Israel has asked Greece for its “understanding” of its rejection of the International Criminal Court’s decision to include the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza under its purview. Already, countries such as the US, Germany and Australia have rejected the ICC’s position.