An Israeli politician has reportedly floated the idea of purchasing Greek islands as a contingency plan for the evacuation of Israelis in case of an Iranian missile attack.
Avri Steiner, a representative of the Blue and White party (Kahol Lavan) led by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, suggested the idea during a board meeting of Heimanuta, a subsidiary of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), according to Israeli media reports.
According to several sources present at the meeting, Steiner, who is a member of the board of directors of Heimanuta, argued that the islands should be purchased “to create a haven for the Jewish People in case of emergency, as a place for Jewish refugees in times of war.”
The Israeli politician claimed that there are 40 uninhabited islands in Greece, which Israel could buy and build infrastructure.
He referred to data from Greece’s privatization fund Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, which, as he said, in 2012 had identified 40 uninhabited islands and islets in the Greek territory that could be leased for up to 50 years, to reduce the country’s debt.
“It simply came to our notice then. “This is a market for humanitarian purposes,” Steiner said of his proposed plan, which Haaretz called “surreal.”
The Israeli politician added that it would be possible to create a framework with the Greek government to later transfer sovereignty to Israel.
“It does not have to be just islands, for me the idea is to purchase vacant land to create another Iron Dome,” Steiner reportedly argued.
The proposal was met with sweeping opposition.
The JNF is a non-profit organization founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine for Jewish settlers. The goal was part of the bigger plan named “land redemption”. Jews in Israel and worldwide have been encouraged to give to the project, often in the form of donations.
Could the State of Israel purchase Greek islands in the Mediterranean? According to attorney Avri Steiner, the islands would become another Iron Dome amidst increasing ballistic threats from Iran that reportedly has 3,000 ballistic missiles as he said he had read.
Speaking to daily Maarev, Steiner argued that the prospect of the KKL-JNF subsidiary purchasing Greek islands is a necessity for evacuating Israelis in case of a missile attack or natural disaster events.
“I came up with the idea that the state, or an independent Zionist body, should look for unpopulated land that can be purchased and establish the infrastructure needed to evacuate citizens in times of need.”
Israel needs to have property or lease on large areas” and Greek islands, which are “largely unpopulated” according to Steiner, are perfect due to their proximity to Israel.
“It’s a humanitarian purchase,” Steiner argued.
Daily Haaretz described the proposal as “surreal.”