Israeli, Greek, Cypriot officials pave way for trilateral meeting of leaders in Nicosia

Netanyahu says trilateral meeting is a “microcosm” of a much wider phenomenon.

December 16, 2015 18:31
2 minute read.
israel greece cyprus

Trilateral consultations between Israel, Greece and Cyprus hosted by the Foreign Minister in Jerusalem. (photo credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)

The directors-general of Israel, Cyprus, and Greece met in Jerusalem on Wednesday, a further signal of a triangular alliance emerging in the region to deal with both gas and security issues.

One of the purposes of the meeting was to plan the three-way summit between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia next month. The formal announcement of that summit was made earlier this week, soon after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled an interest in normalizing ties with Israel.

The timing of the announcement of the trilateral summit was seen as sending assurances to Cyprus and Greece that any normalization of ties with Turkey will not come at their expense, and also a message to Turkey that Israel has other options in the region.

Netanyahu made reference to the upcoming summit during a speech he delivered in the Knesset on Wednesday, saying that the three leaders will discuss the gas issue, the war on terrorism and Islamic extremism, and commercial and trade cooperation between the countries.

Some 15 years ago, Cyprus and Greece were among Israel’s biggest critics in Europe.

Netanyahu said the trilateral meeting is a “microcosm” of a much wider phenomenon.

He said there are two contradictory trends in the world toward Israel.

The first is the well-known, traditional trend that comes out in the UN and in EU institutions, which he described as a reflexive anti-Israel position reflected in condemnations and hypocritical votes and resolutions.

“This trend exists, and we are fighting again it aggressively,” he said. “But there is also a positive trend, which is getting stronger, and that is at the level of the states themselves. Many states in the world, including the biggest ones, are strengthening their relations and cooperation with Israel.”

That type of cooperation, according to the Foreign Ministry, was on display at Wednesday’s meeting between Gold, Dimitris Paraskevopoulos from Greece, and Alexandros Zenon from Cyprus.

Gold told Israel Radio after the meeting that in light of the current events in the region, there is a common interest by the three countries to cooperate and create a area of stability in the strategic eastern Mediterranean.

Wednesday’s trilateral consultation followed by a year the first of its kind that was held in Athens. According to the Foreign Ministry, in addition to preparing for the upcoming leaders’ summit, the parties focused on cooperation in energy development, migration issues, fighting terrorism, tourism, environment, water management and research and technology.

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