Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu engaged in discussions concerning the transportation of Israel’s natural gas production to Europe during a meeting with Cypriot and Greek leaders on Sunday.
Netanyahu’s visit to Nicosia, Cyprus, was part of a two-day diplomatic mission aimed at resolving the intricate issue of transporting Israeli natural gas to Europe through Cyprus. The primary proposals involve the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, which would convey gas from Israeli offshore production through Cyprus and onwards to Greece. The second option involves shortening the pipeline from Israel to a liquefaction terminal in Cyprus before shipping it to Europe.
While Netanyahu met with Cyprus’s President Nikos Christodoulides, Israel’s Energy Minister Israel Katz held separate talks with Turkish and Egyptian counterparts. Discussions also included the US envoy, Dan Shapiro, focusing on regional normalization efforts regarding gas exports in the Eastern Mediterranean.
These talks with Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek el-Molla and Turkish Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar appear to be part of a strategy aimed at navigating the complex dynamics between Cyprus and Turkey. Bayraktar expressed satisfaction with the talks and expressed interest in visiting Israel.
Katz emphasized that these discussions build upon his previous talks with Greek and Cypriot energy ministers. He highlighted Israel’s significant offshore gas reserves as a pivotal factor in regional agreements, possibly indicating the relevance of Dan Shapiro’s involvement. Shapiro, the former US ambassador, now plays a key role in expanding the Abraham Accords under the Biden administration.
Netanyahu and Christodoulides discussed a range of topics, including infrastructure, tourism, and counterterrorism cooperation during their meeting. Netanyahu also proposed the idea of Israel, Cyprus, and Greece jointly purchasing a firefighting supertanker aircraft for potential use in managing large-scale fires.
Furthermore, the leaders explored the possibility of an energy connector line that could extend to countries in the East, including Arab states. Christodoulides expressed Cyprus’s interest in acting as a gateway with like-minded partners, strengthening relationships established through the Abraham Accords.
Netanyahu also commended Cyprus for its role in thwarting a terror attack believed to have been supported by Iran. He thanked Cyprus for its cooperation in security and defense matters and for preventing a potential attack against Israelis and Jewish targets on Cypriot soil.
Accompanied by his wife, Netanyahu spent the night in Limassol before returning to Nicosia for additional meetings with Christodoulides and the Greek Prime Minister. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen embarked on a diplomatic visit to Bahrain, marking his first state visit to an Abraham Accords country.