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Politics

From West Bank, Kasselakis Says Greece Must Recognize Palestinian State

ATHENS – Greece should follow Spain, Ireland and Norway in accepting a Palestinian state and not back Israel in its hunt for Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, which caused thousands of civilian deaths, major opposition SYRIZA leader Stefanos Kasselakis said.

The Greek-American businessman who took over the Leftists in 2023 when former leader and one-time premier Alexis Tsipras summarily quit after taking a second beating from Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis was speaking from the West Bank, controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

Israel’s war against Hamas, looking for the terrorists who killed more than 1200 Israelis in October, 2023 raids – including children and babies tortured, beheaded and burned alive – has divided the world.

The President of SYRIZA – Progressive Alliance, Stefanos Kasselakis, visited the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and held a meeting with the Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine, Theophilos III, Monday May 27, 2024. (SYRIZA-PA/EUROKINISSI PRESS OFFICE)

SYRIZA has traditionally sided with the Palestinians but Tsipras backed away from that in also seeking better relations with Israel while he was prime minister but now Kasselakis is turning the Leftists back toward supporting them.

He told Greece’s Sto Kokkino radio station that, “The western world and Greece,” should not tolerate what’s happening in the Gaza Strip, where more than 35,000 people have been killed in Israeli strikes.

“What was supposed to be Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas has now become a bloodbath, a massacre with no end in sight,” he said, not indicating that the terrorists are hiding among the civilians.

He said that, “Seventy-five percent of Gaza has been destroyed. I have seen many photos and have heard from the authorities here what they are dealing with. Even the money that the Palestinian Authority sends to Gaza has been blocked by the Israeli government.”

“He added that, “At the same time, in fact, they are under great pressure in the West Bank as well. And we cannot allow this to continue,” he stressed, pointing to an Israeli strike in Rafah that killed 35 people, Israel admitting it was a mistake.

President of SYRIZA Stefanos Kasselakis meets with the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities of Palestine in Bethlehem. (SYRIZA-PA PRESS OFFICE/EUROKINISSI)

“We should learn from the Greek people’s friendship with the Palestinian people, starting with Andreas Papandreou and Yasser Arafat, and bring it back to the forefront of our foreign policy today. Because if not now, then when?” he said.

Mitsotakis, while lamenting the deaths in the Gaza Strip and asking Israel to be more cautious, has nonetheless backed the Israelis, with Greece having trade and business ties and seeking investors.

But Kasselakis called for a break with that kind of thinking, including by the European Union, which – like the United States – has declared Hamas a terrorist organization although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls them freedom fighters and says it’s Israel that’s brought terrorism and genocide.

“Europe must have an opinion. It cannot follow the USA’s example in all its negotiations with Israel and Palestine and the Arab countries. Europe must have a point of view and that point of view and activity must be in favor of peace,” he said.

He also said there should be a ceasefire, which Israel rejected on the grounds it would give Hamas time to rearm and reorganize, although it’s civilians suffering the most from a shortage of food, fuel, medicine and other essentials.

President of SYRIZA Stefanos Kasselakis meets with the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities of Palestine in Bethlehem. (SYRIZA-PA PRESS OFFICE/EUROKINISSI)

He said that the Palestinian Authority wants “release of the funds they have sent for humanitarian aid and also to stop the pressure they are under from Israel in the West Bank as well.”

Referring to the situation in the West Bank, he said that “the pressure” in question is “a consequence of the decisions of the Israeli government, such as the decisions on settlements, which also go against the decisions of the UN.”

The Israeli Ambassador to Greece, Noam Katz, said that Kasselakis’ visit was a “lost opportunity,” and that he should have spoken to both sides in the conflict, not just the Palestinians, the SYRIZA leader shunning Israel.

“I would hope that SYRIZA leader, while being in Ramallah, besides expressing his sympathy towards the Palestinians, he would also condemn Hamas’ atrocities,” said Katz, who added that nevertheless Kasselakis would be “welcomed in Israel.”

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