Netanyahu Visits Cyprus to Discuss Energy Cooperation

By Hamodia Staff

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides (R) hosting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the presidential palace in Nicosia.

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Cyprus on Sunday to meet with President Nikos Christodoulidis and discuss energy cooperation between the two countries.

The two leaders met at the presidential palace in the capital of Nicosia, with an extended meeting held afterward with the participation of the staffs of both parties.

During the meeting, Netanyahu suggested to Christodoulidis that they examine the possibility that Israel Cyprus and Greece jointly purchase a giant “supertanker” firefighting aircraft to be used by the three countries in the event of major fires.

The need for such a firefighting plane came to light during the massive fire in the Carmel forests in 2010 and the huge fires that broke out last summer in Cyprus and Greece.

The focus of Netanyahu’s visit was the issue of cooperation in the gas field, which was discussed during the meetings. Israel is considering several possibilities, including exporting gas through Cyprus to Europe. Netanyahu also conveyed a message that the rapprochement between Israel and Turkey will not come at the expense of relations between Cyprus and Greece.

In his comments at a joint statement of the leaders, Netanyahu said the two nations have also discussed “an electrical connector that will connect Cyprus to Greece and to the mainland Europe. And from Cyprus to Israel and possibly to countries to our east.”

“That gives us the ability to, not to be — forgive the expression—islands. I’m not sure being an island is so bad. We in Israel often even wished that we’d been an island,” Netanyahu joked. “But you certainly don’t want to be an energy island. You want to be connected to other sources of power that can allow a more optimal use of power.”

Netanyahu also said that as more Arab nations join the Abraham Accords, “we have, I think, also the possibility of making real the idea of an Asia-Middle East-Europe corridor, especially infrastructure.”

“I’m quite confident that we will have a corridor that could go through Israel, from the Arabian Peninsula, from Asia to the Arabian Peninsula to Israel to Cyprus, and from there to Europe,” such as “a fiber optic connection.”

Earlier, as the anthems of the two countries played in the background, Netanyahu and Christodoulidis reviewed an honor guard. Netanyahu also aid a wreath at the foot of the statue of the first president of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III.

Meeting attendees on the Israeli side included Netanyahu’s chief of staff, the Director of the National Security Council, the Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Director of the National Economic Council, the Prime Minister’s Military Secretary, the Prime Minister’s Foreign Policy Adviser, the Head of the National Public Diplomacy Directorate, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson and the Israeli Ambassador to Cyprus. Among those attending on the Cypriot side were the Foreign Minister, the Energy, Trade and Industry Minister, the National Security Adviser and the Cypriot Ambassador to Israel.

Photos by Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

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