An Israeli party representative has suggested the purchase of small Greek islands to serve as a safe haven for Jewish people in times of war, according to Haaretz.
Avri Steiner, a representative of the centrist party Kahol Lavan, proposed that money from the Jewish National Fund be used to purchase islands in Greece.
This is so there can be "a haven for the Jewish People in case of emergency, as a place for Jewish refugees in times of war,” according to Haaretz.
Greece is home to over 2,000 islands, but only 170 of them are inhabited.
Steiner sits on the board of directors of the company Himnuta, which is owned by the Jewish National Fund; he was appointed to the board by Benny Gantz, the current Defense Minister of Israel.
Proposal for Israel to purchase Greek islands rejected
The unique proposal was met with criticism and most present were opposed to it. Many people at the meeting even found the proposal to be preposterous. Steiner had previously met with a number of board members to discuss the plan in private, according to Haaretz.
There seemed to be some confusion about the purpose of the proposal, as of course the state of Israel itself was created to be a haven for Jewish people.
Haartez states that board members believed Steiner pitched the plan in case Israel was destroyed or attacked heavily in the future.
Additionally, those present at the meeting found the proposal to be very vague, as Steiner did not specify which islands in Greece would be purchased under the plan.
A person present at the meeting told Haaretz that Steiner was presented with the rules of JNF and Himnuta, which state that they can’t “purchase land outside of Israel. His response was: ‘So what, we’ll change the charter.'”
All of the board members rejected the proposal except Nachi Eyal, who represents the right-wing Religious Zionist Party of Israel. He once belonged to the New Right Party, which is led by current Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett.
Eyal, despite not rejecting the idea, did not support it either. Instead, he simply remained quiet and did not take part in the discussion.
Israel and Greece are close allies in the Mediterranean. When Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Greece in late February, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou stressed the close bond between the countries.
“Our two countries, especially in recent years, have a strategic relationship, mainly due to the friendship between the peoples, but also to their common vision for security and stability in the region.
“After the talks that we will have, this relationship can develop even further, because it is a common goal of our countries to expand cooperation, so that they can be a pillar of stability in our region, which so greatly needs it,” she stated.
Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias spoke with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid on Tuesday about events in Ukraine and the continuation of close coordination between the two East Mediterranean country.
“We discussed various issues of common interest with a focus on developments in Ukraine and agreed that Greece and Israel will remain in close coordination,” Dendias wrote on Twitter.
In its own tweet, the Israeli Embassy in Greece wrote that the two ministers also discussed “a plethora of issues (…), and they decided to continue their close consultations.”
Meanwhile, the Jewish country is grappling with a situation that involves dealing with dozens of Jewish Russian oligarchs as Western nations step up sanctions on businesspeople with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A worried Israeli government has formed a high-level committee to see how the country can maintain its status as a haven for any Jew without running afoul of the biting sanctions targeting Putin’s inner circle, Al-Jazeera reported.
Several dozen Jewish tycoons from Russia are believed to have taken on Israeli citizenship or residency in recent years. Many have good working relations with the Kremlin, and at least four – Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and Viktor Vekselberg – have been sanctioned internationally because of their purported connections to Putin.