Israeli Ambassador to Athens Yosef Amrani spoke with To Vima about the situation in Israel, differences over properties in a suburb of Jerusalem, and relations with the US and Turkey .
Public opinion in Greece and around the world considers this to be another case of disproportionate use of force by Israelis to Palestinians – seeing at least 20 Israeli rocket-propelled grenades kill in Gaza, including nine children, and hundreds of Palestinians injured by Israeli police in Jerusalem. How can you convince the world that Israel is being attacked by the Palestinians and not the other way around?
“We have to look at the context in which the events are taking place and their political side. They do not happen in a vacuum. The holy month of Ramadan, which we respect, is always a very sensitive period. It is exploited by political factions to promote their interests. This brings Israel to a point where it must act to prevent escalation. The Israeli government has not allowed Palestinians and Israelis to perform their religious duties as they normally would. The goal was to have restraint and balance.
The world is ignoring political developments inside the Palestinian territories. The Palestinian leadership, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, decided to postpone the elections, most likely because the 15-year-old election forecast was bad for Fatah (Abbas’s party). Hamas reacts to this postponement of the elections by “setting fire” to the country. By attacking Israel and giving it ultimatums, it shows that it is defending the rights of the Palestinians.
We have to ask ourselves what is happening: why did the capital of Israel come under fire (including rockets from Gaza)? Fortunately we have the Iron Dome (missile defense shield), fortunately we are stronger militarily. We have no choice but to be militarily stronger. Just because we have no losses on our part does not mean that we have to accept fire or live in fear or that we will meet the demands and ultimatums of Hamas. We are acting with restraint and accepting Hamas fire for its own political purposes. Israel is the victim.
Unfortunately people do not pay enough attention or do not know, and judge hastily. I saw some comments and statements calling for restraint from Israel. Political leaders who make such irresponsible statements must first look at the facts. “If they were in power, they would not talk like that.”
Who are you referring to?
Some comments and statements made in the media by some political leaders. They need to be better informed before rushing to Twitter.
In Greece or abroad?
Both in Greece and abroad. The people must clearly condemn the rocket fire against Israel. “It must clearly condemn Hamas’ efforts to create tension.
You did not mention at all Sheikh Jarrah, the (Palestinian) neighborhood of East Jerusalem where tensions first erupted in recent days because Israel evicted Palestinian families to give their property they had before Israel’s founding in 1948 to Jewish settlers. Israel claims the issue is a “private dispute” but the rest of the world sees it as political and illegal.
No eviction has taken place and the case is pending. It has reached the Supreme Court and the eviction has been postponed until this court ruling. We must all obey law and order. The issue of law is Sheikh Jarrah, the issue of order is what is happening in Al-Aqsa Mosque and elsewhere. There is a moral issue here: these people settled there in the 1950s from the Kingdom of Jordan and now the question is who owns the land. It will be resolved in court and until then there will be no eviction. It is a sensitive and difficult judicial and moral issue that Hamas uses to incite violence. I doubt there is another case in the world where land belongs to someone but someone else uses it with no compensation or solution given. But when it comes to Israel, suddenly these moral values are forgotten. I hope the court ruling will contribute to peace. But let us not ignore the fact that someone is taking advantage of the issue to set fire to the Middle East.
Is Israel satisfied with the reaction of the Biden government?
We are in close contact with the Americans, with other countries, with Greece, we convey our view and I am pleased that the Americans are dealing with the events in a balanced and fair manner. Unfortunately in other countries, due to the internal political agenda, things are different.”
Do you mean Turkey?
We know of Turkey’s relations with Hamas, we have read the tweets of Turkish political leaders about the events. Turkey does not express itself responsibly and its agenda is clear: it wants to defend Muslims everywhere, it talks to regional leaders blaming Israel – it is always easier to blame Israel. I’m saddened by the Turkish comments.