An Israeli-Saudi deal is possible and could create a new electricity coordinator that could link Europe with India via the Middle East, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during his visit to Cyprus on Monday.
“There is now the possibility that we might have the expansion of the Abraham Accords to normalization with Saudi Arabia,” Netanyahu said.
He spoke to the media together with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as part of a trilateral event in Nicosia to discuss joint projects, particularly in the energy sphere and in the diary field.
Dairy market expansion
“We intend to open the dairy market very soon to Greek and Cypriot—and other—imports,” Netanyahu said. He quipped that the Cypriot yogurt may be tastier than the Israeli brands.
"We like your food. We like your dairy products. We like your yogurt,” Netanyahu said, adding that with it came to market competition, “May the best yogurt win. You have a pretty good chance at winning."
The three leaders spoke of how Israel’s normalization efforts in the Middle East could be leveraged to expand their trilateral projects.
The meeting came as the Biden administration has sought to broker a deal with Saudi Arabia, that would include a normalization deal with Israel.
Netanyahu placed the idea of a new fiber optic energy coordinator within the context of such normalization deals, particularly given that Israel has already created ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.
As part of the regional thaw toward Israel, Cohen was in Bahrain on Monday to promote a pending free trade agreement between the two countries, to follow the one that exists with the UAE.
In Cyprus, Netanyahu spoke of a new electricity connector “that is being organized right now from mainland Greece to Crete to Cyprus.”
That European Union-supported EuroAsia Interconnector subsea cable is envisaged to carry up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity to eventually link grids from Israel and Cyprus to Greece.
Netanyahu said it could also involve countries to the east of Israel.
He also referenced the possibility that Israel could work cooperatively with Cyprus and Greece to export its natural gas to Europe. Decisions on that score will be made within three to six months, he said.
Earlier this year, Cyprus suggested expediting gas to market by the creation of a short pipeline linking Israel's east Mediterranean gas fields to a liquefaction facility on Cyprus, which could then be shipped to Europe.
"We agree that natural gas and renewable energy is a prime pillar of cooperation in the region, especially in light of the recent geopolitical developments," Christodoulides said. "Especially in Europe, (it) dictates the need for energy diversification and increased interconnectivity," he said.
Netanyahu said Israel was also "eagerly pursuing" being part of a planned subsea electricity link.
"We would like to have it connected obviously to Israel and possibly to the east of Israel, Netanyahu said.
Last Netanyahu also spoke of cooperative efforts to combat Iranian-backed terror and the growing threat of fires due to climate change, particularly with the help of artificial intelligence.
Reuters contributed to this report