Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias is in Israel for a three-day visit despite the domestic crisis back home, where the Finance Minister has resigned after Sunday’s referendum on a European Union plan to bail out the debt-ridden country.
Kotzias arrived on Sunday as Greeks went to the polls and thoroughly rejected the plan.
The Foreign Minister’s visit is the first by a senior Greek official since the radical left-wing Syriza party took power.
Kotzias met with Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely and is scheduled to sit down with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Cabinet ministers, Opposition leader Yitzchak Herzog and Palestinian Authority leaders.
The Syriza party strongly backs statehood for the Palestinian Authority while maintaining good relations with Israel, but Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Kotzias’ visit has an “economic emphasis.”
The first of three or four boats trying to break Israel’s anti-terror maritime embargo on Gaza left the Greek island of Crete Friday morning and is scheduled to dock in Gaza on Sunday or morning.
Israel has said that the boats will not reach Gaza under any circumstances.
The Israeli Navy will stop the flotilla, as it has done in the past, but activists say that since the Marianne of Gothenburg boat flies the Swedish flag, Israel could be accused of a war crime
“War crime” is the buzz words these days, usually referring to any action by Israel that does not further the aims of the Palestinian Authority, which yesterday said it is bringing to the International Criminal Court (ICC) charges that building homes for Jews and a highway in Jerusalem are war crimes.
Pro-Hamas activists have learned their lessons from previous publicity stunts and are keeping mum on the boats’ location, a rather childish act since the IDF has enough surveillance equipment to know exactly where they are without any help from the flotilla’s public relations staff.
The departure date of the flotilla had been delayed. Activists claim that Israeli agents sabotaged at least one of the boats, but others say that inclement weather forced the activists to postpone their trip.
As usual, the activists are trying to attract as much attentions as possible and have brought an Israeli Arab Knesset Member with them. MK Basel Ghattas and a former Tunisian president are among the 70 people on board the lead ship.
Organizers of the flotillas have assured Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that they are not bringing any weapons with them. In 2010, Turkish-based terrorists used iron bars and two pistols to challenge Israeli Navy officers who boarded the Mavi Mamara ship. Ten of the terrorists were killed in the clash.
“If there is some kind of violent confrontation, it won’t come from our side,” a left-wing Israeli activist said.
The Marianne is carrying one solar panel and medical supplies, all of which can easily reach Gaza by land from Israel. A single solar panel is absolutely useless, except as propaganda to “con the world,” as seen in the video below.
Lost in the hype and reports by establishment media that are hungry for anti-Israel news is the fact the solar panels and medical supplies cannot enter Gaza so freely from Egypt, which has blocked passage several times, including this past month.
The last word in the new flotilla stunt already has been written: The IDF will stop the boats before they can get too close to Gaza, the Foreign Ministry told The JewishPress.com.
If the passengers indeed are unarmed, the whole scene will be a circus for the media.
The IDF will warn the captain of the boats not to proceed. He will refuse, forcing the Navy to surround the ships.
The Navy officers will try to find a way to take over the wheel if the captain does not cooperate.
Everyone will arrive in the port of Ashdod, and the passengers will call the soldiers “war criminals” and perhaps will sit down in a circle and clasp hands, singing “We shall overcome” as four soldiers haul each passenger off the boat.
The news photographers will love it, and perhaps Gaza terrorists will celebrate by launching a rocket or two at Israel.
If they are lucky, the missiles won’t fall short and explode on a house in Gaza, in which case Israel would be accused of committing a war crime because the “occupation made them do it.”
Below is the video “We Con the World,” produce by the Latma satirical group after the Mavi Mamaras clash five years ago.
An attack on the Israeli embassy in Athens on Friday has been blamed on the continuing anti-Israel incitement disseminated around the world by the Palestinian Authority.
Foreign Ministry officials said in a statement over the weekend, “The international community must condemn this continuing incitement that leads to these results.
“Israel thanks the Greek authorities for their close cooperation in investigating the incident,” a Foreign Ministry person said.
“We are hopeful that the perpetrators will be caught and punished.”
The embassy building was sprayed with gunfire at 3:20 am Friday, according to the AFP news agency. Two gunmen riding on the back of motorcycles had aimed at least 54 rounds from a Kalashnikov while passing the embassy, situated at the corner of a busy intersection in an affluent northern Athens suburb.
“There were two bursts of gunfire … they must have emptied an entire clip,” a gas station attendant told reporters in a television news report.
Kalashnikov assault rifles used in the attack were also used in a similar assault on the German ambassador’s residence last December, Greek police said. They told reporters late Friday a far-left group, the People’s Fighter Group, was likely responsible for the attack. Both American and German offices have been targeted by terrorists in previous attacks last year, and in 2007.
But government minister Vassilis Kikilias told the Ana news agency while inspecting the scene of the attack, “No one is going to affect the relations between Greece and Israel.” Government spokesperson Sophia Vultepsi added that Athens is taking “determined steps” against terror groups.
Israel and Greece have good relations, but the government has been very critical of Israeli policies towards the Palestinian Authority, and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party has gained popularity in the co
Two gunmen on motorcycles fired 15-20 shots at the Israeli embassy in Athens before dawn Friday. No one was injured.
Police have closed off the area and are investigating the attack.
The bullet shells indicated that the gunmen fired Kalashnikov semi-automatic rifles.
Israel and Greece have good relations, but the government has been very critical of Israeli policies towards the Palestinian Authority, and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party has gained popularity in the country.
American and German offices have been targeted by terrorists in previous attacks last year and in 2007.
The police chief of the popular Greek tourist island of Hydra was photographed giving the Nazi salute while on a trip to Germany.
The Ethnos Sunday newspaper published the picture of Lt. Yiorgos Kagkalos, which it reported was taken in 2011 during a visit to the Nuremberg Transport Museum.
The publication follows persistent reports suggesting widespread support among the Greek police for the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. It also comes in a week when the Greek Parliament is working to pass a law that would outlaw Holocaust denial and hate speech.
In the photo, Kagkalos is standing in front of a red locomotive emblazoned with the Nazi eagle and swastika. His arm is raised in the Nazi salute.
The newspaper reported that the photo had been sent anonymously to the police who investigated the incident, but ultimately did not charge Kagkalos due to lack of evidence.
Kagkalos has appealed to the administrative courts an order by police headquarters to remove him from his position, which he has held since 2011, the newspaper reported.
The mayor of Salonika, second-largest city in Greece, wore a yellow Star of David to his second term inauguration at city hall last week.
Mayor Iannis Boutaris, 72, wore the star as a gesture of respect to honor the memory of the Jews who were murdered by the Nazis during World War II, he explained.
Boutaris pinned the star to his jacket as a resposne to the presence of a radical right parliamentarian from the Golden Dawn party, Artemis Mathaiopoulos, on the city council, the European Jewish Press reported.
Golden Dawn has become the third most popular party in the national elections.
The Nazis deported more than 90 percent of Jews from Thessaloniki (Salonika) at the time – some 60,000 Jews – and then later wiped them out. Only 1,200 Jews live in Salonika today.