Greek F-16 at Cyprus' Paphos base 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Andreas Manolis)
Israel will ask Cyprus to station Israel Air Force fighter jets at a military
facility on the island, Cyprus media reported Tuesday.
According to the
reports, Israel will make the request during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s
visit to Cyprus later this month.
It is unclear if the request will be to
station a permanent presence on the island or to establish a base that can
provide logistical support for the IAF during operations in the
It is possible that Israel is seeking to establish a base in
Cyprus to be able to more effectively protect the growing number of gas fields
it is discovering in the Mediterranean Sea.
According to the report in
the Famagusta Gazette, the talks are currently at an “exploratory stage”
regarding the possibility of using the Andrea Paendreou airbase in Paphos, in
southwestern Cyprus. The base reportedly used to host Greek
Neither the Cypriot Embassy in Tel Aviv nor the Prime Minister’s
Office would confirm the reports.
One diplomatic official, saying the
reports did not “sound right,” suggested what might be discussed during
Netanyahu’s visit is a request to conduct air maneuvers over Cyprus, similar to
those conducted over other countries in the region, such as Greece and
Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Cyprus February 16.
month, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his Cypriot counterpart Demetris Eliades
signed two agreements aimed at bolstering defense cooperation between the
countries. The agreements were signed during Eliades’s visit to Tel Aviv. The
possibility of establishing the base in Cyprus, reportedly came up during their
Israeli-Cypriot ties have improved significantly over the
last three years. The Cypriot Air Force sent fire extinguishing planes to Israel
to help put out the Carmel Forest fire last year, and in 2009 Cyprus stopped a
cargo ship suspected of carrying Iranian arms.Herb Keinon contributed to