Iran hopes to set up a naval base on the Mediterranean Sea for its warships and submarines that would pose a “palpable threat” to everyone, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday in Nicosia.
“I think that everybody recognizes the malign intentions of Iran, and I think everybody also recognizes Israel’s right of self-defense, which is really our common defense,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister was speaking after a trilateral summit with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. This was the fourth meeting between the three leaders in the last two-and-a-half years.
While the meeting focused on energy and economic issues, the leaders also discussed regional issues, including Syria and Iran.
Netanyahu remarked that while Anastasiades said it was “unimaginable” anyone would challenge the right of Israel to exist, Iran does exactly that.
Iran, he said, “openly calls daily for our destruction, the elimination of Israel from the face of the Earth, and it practices unmitigated aggression against us and against anyone else in the region. It has a terror network that is spread throughout the world. It is now seeking to implant very dangerous weapons in Syria to be used against Israel for the specific purpose of our destruction.”
In his remarks, Netanyahu spoke about the close cooperation that has developed between the three Eastern Mediterranean countries – cooperation expressed in mutual assistance such as when Cyprus and Greece sent firefighters and planes to help Israel fight the Carmel fire in 2010, and when Cyprus sent a badly wounded policeman to Israel this week for emergency care.
“These are simple examples of something that is very real. We are building a great alliance, an alliance for good among our three democracies,” he said.
The three leaders spoke once again about the feasibility of a massive project to lay a pipeline under the sea, from Israel’s natural gas fields through Cyprus, to Greece and then on to Italy and western Europe.
National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz, who accompanied Netanyahu on Tuesday, met his Cypriot and Greek counterparts with the hope of signing an agreement on the pipeline by the end of the year.
The 2,100-kilometer pipeline has a price tag of some NIS 25 billion and an anticipated completion date of 2015.
Steinitz said the project will ensure a European market for Israeli and Cypriot gas, and add to competitiveness in the global natural gas market. He also said the project would enhance Europe’s energy security by diversifying its sources of energy.
The next trilateral Israel-Cypriot-Greece summit is scheduled to be held next year in Beersheba, underlining the high-tech and cyber dimension of the relationship. As Netanyahu said on Tuesday, Beersheba is “becoming one of the great cyber-cities in the world.”