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Israel’s Friends Must Give It ‘hard Truths’ Over Gaza Assault, Says Greek PM

‘There will be an increased concern about the proportionality of the Israeli response,’ Kyriakos Mitsotakis tells POLITICO.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Israel’s allies must speak “hard truths” about its “aggressive” military response against Hamas, as European countries show increasing concern over the “proportionality” of its retaliation in Gaza.

“While we recognize that Israel has the right to defend itself, how it does so actually matters, and it matters considerably,” Mitsotakis told POLITICO’s Power Play podcast this week. 

While the EU has stood behind Israel since the beginning of its counteroffensive following Hamas’ violent attack on October 7 — which killed more than 1,400 people — member countries have expressed “an increased concern over the plight of innocent civilians and about the horrifying scenes that came out of Gaza,” Mitsotakis said. 

“As Israel continues with this very, very aggressive military campaign, yes, there will be an increased concern about the proportionality of the Israeli response,” Mitsotakis said.

“I’m speaking as a friend of Israel,” he added. “And I think that sometimes friends have to speak hard truths to friends.”

In the past month, Israel has laid a complete siege on Gaza and, according to Hamas-controlled health authorities, killed more than 10,000 people in airstrikes, including thousands of civilians. 

EU countries — including Greece — have been pushing for so-called humanitarian pauses in Gaza, to allow the 2.3 million people living in the densely populated coastal strip to receive humanitarian aid. 

Without undermining the “strategic goal to defeat Hamas,” it’s important to think about “the day after” and how to find a political solution to the conflict, Mitsotakis said.

“At the end of the day, one needs to recognize what is the price that one has to pay in order to defeat Hamas,” he added.

Greece-Turkey relations

Domestically, Mitsotakis said Greece is implementing a “tough but fair” migration policy, which has helped reduce illegal crossings from the Turkish coast. He also reiterated Greece’s right to protect its sea border and the need for continued financial assistance from the EU, amid some international criticism over Greece pushing back migrants at sea.

“We are getting a lot of European assistance, but it is important for this European assistance not to dry up over the next years,” he said.

Mitsotakis also said he is looking forward to improving Greece’s relationship with Turkey, noting that there has already been a “change of tune” in the past few months. Despite some lingering disagreements between Athens and Ankara — notably the ongoing territorial dispute over maritime boundaries in the Aegean — Mitsotakis said he hopes the two countries will be able to work together.

“I was always an open proponent that Turkey needs to be supported financially by the European Union because it is currently hosting millions of Syrian refugees,” he said. “There are win-win sort of areas we can work together.”

On the international stage, Mitsotakis said he is proud of how Greece has managed to improve its image. After “quite a fair share of international bashing” over the decades, Greece is finally no longer the “problem child” of Europe, he said.

Source: Politico