Netanyahu Holds Third Summit With Leaders of Greece, Cyprus Over Gas Pipeline

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Greek and Cypriot counterparts to discuss speeding up construction of a gas pipeline from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe, The Jerusalem Post reported Friday.

The summit with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades took place in the Greek city of Thessaloniki. It was the third between the three leaders in the past two years.

Israel, Greece, Cyprus, and other European nations signed agreements in April to build a 2,000 kilometer (1,250 mile) pipeline that would carry natural gas from Israel to Europe. The project is slated to be completed by 2025 and cost $6.7 billion.

Europe is eager to diversify its sources of natural gas and Greece is interested in being the transit point for the gas on its way to Italy and the rest of the continent.

“We agreed to expedite our joint actions concerning our agreement on the construction of a large project which will offer new prospects of economic cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean,” Tsipras explained a press conference with the two other leaders.

Tsipras, Anastasiades, and Netanyahu also discussed the construction of a cable to carry electricity generated in Israel to Europe, by way of Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete. They also spoke of regional issues including Syria, tensions between Cyprus and Turkey, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tispras said that he and Netanyahu “always talk openly and honestly” about relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

In his remarks at the joint press conference, Netanyahu hailed the ties between Israel, Greece and Cyprus. He noted that relations between the three nations had once been cool, but ” I thought that it had to change because there’s a simple fact about Cyprus, Greece and Israel that brings us very close together. We’re all democracies, real democracies. And when you look in the present in our region, especially looking eastward and some other directions as well, that’s not a very common commodity.”

At a meeting in January, the three leaders discussed the creation of a regional emergency response force.

[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube ]