A representative from Israel is looking to purchase a number of small Greek islands to serve as a safe haven for Jewish people, according to the newspaper 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 to be used “to create 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.