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Syriza-led government learns to "love Israel"

News broke Monday morning that a deal had finally been reached between the left-wing Greek government and its European Union and IMF creditors on how to impose a regime of further harsh austerity on the country.

Although all the details of the agreement are yet to be revealed, it seems uncomfortably close to a defeat given both that Syriza was elected earlier this year precisely to fend off the threat of further EU-imposed austerity, and that the Greek people just voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to reject exactly such a deal.

Former Syriza finance minister Yanis Varoufakis was pushed out of office at the creditors' insistence, and is now able to speak more freely. He revealed in an interview with The New Statesman Monday that Germany's finance minister was absolutely intransigent in talks since Syriza came to power. Despite the fact that the party was elected on a promise to renegotiate the terms of the debt with the creditors, "His view was 'I'm not discussing the programme – this was accepted by the previous [Greek] government and we can't possibly allow an election to change anything.'

"So at that point I said 'Well perhaps we should simply not hold elections any more for indebted countries', and there was no answer. The only interpretation I can give [of their view] is, 'Yes, that would be a good idea, but it would be difficult. So you either sign on the dotted line or you are out.'"

Greece seems then to have become a debt colony to the Eurogroup and to the IMF – completely unaccountable and undemocratic institutions. Despite a massive 61 per cent of Greeks voting "No" to the imposed austerity deal, the EU loan sharks are determined to impose a "Yes".

The very fate of Greek democracy is in question. It seems the German finance minister would be more comfortable if there were no elections at all in indebted nations. With such fundamental questions hanging in the balance, it is perhaps no surprise to learn that other aspects of Syriza's electoral platform have been neglected.

With the left-wing alliance seemingly unable to deliver on its central promise to roll back austerity, perhaps it should be no surprise to learn that it is also reneging on its anti-militarist foreign policy manifesto promises: the foreign minister visited Israel last week, making warm promises of friendship.

The party's 2012 "40-point programme" called for the "abolition of military cooperation with Israel" as part of a wider anti-militarist stance. But what a U-turn now.

In a joint press conference in Jerusalem with the Israeli prime minister, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias seemed determined to continue the path of the former conservative government, which from 2010 started the country on a new path towards joint military cooperation and training exercises with Israel, despite its regular massacres of the civilian population of Gaza.

"We have to learn to love Israel," gushed Kotzias, in a short statement last week, which seemed deliberately truncated in order to allow Netanyahu to dominate the press conference with his usual propaganda themes (mostly agitating against the deal to ease sanctions against Iran).

Kotzias made clear (my emphasis): "In recent years, we have developed bilateral relations, lately in all sectors: security, energy, tourism, economy. I was just discussing, yesterday, with your close adviser about economy. We talked today with your Minister for Energy. And I think that we have very good projects to do together, not only for our generation, but for the next generations, too."

Disgustingly, Kotzias even claimed that Israel is part of a "line of stability in this area. We have a common interest in stability and security." Tell that to the people of Gaza, who exactly one year ago were enduring the latest systematic Israeli flattening of the coastal strip, which would result in the deaths of more than 2,200 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians, including 551 children. Some "stability."

While Kotzias (a former Communist Party member) is an independent and not actually in Syriza, it is a disgrace that a supposedly "radical" left wing government, which was elected to power on a huge wave of optimistic popular mobilisation, should betray its electorate to such a huge extent.

At least with the the austerity measures, one could argue that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is between a rock and hard place, the Eurozone bullies having even essentially shut down Greece's banks as a punishment for daring to try and renegotiate the debt terms. This capitulation towards Israel has no such excuse.

Empty words in Ramallah about "the just demand of the Palestinian people" and the pretence that Israel's puppet Palestinian Authority non-state in the West Bank bantustan is "Palestine" cannot disguise that.

An associate editor with The Electronic Intifada, Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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