Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides vowed to strengthen security and economic cooperation following a meeting between the two leaders in Nicosia on Sunday.
“Our commitment to democracy and our common interest in the region—to fight radicalism, to fight terrorism, to fight those who don’t share our worldview and want to destroy our world—the combination of these things has made this partnership real,” Netanyahu told the Cypriot president, adding that ties between the two countries are becoming “stronger with each passing year.”
In June, Jerusalem revealed that Cyprus had thwarted an Iranian plot to murder Israelis on the island. A head of the hit squad, captured by Mossad agents in Iran, provided information that led Cypriot intelligence services to foil the attack.
Netanyahu on Sunday thanked Christodoulides for the “excellent work done by Cypriot security services.”
Discussions also focused on negotiations relating to the export of Israeli natural gas to Europe through Cyprus, with Netanyahu saying talks will “continue in the coming months.”
The leaders also discussed linking Cyprus and Israel through undersea electricity lines and fiber optic cables, which Netanyahu suggested can connect to Europe and also “possibly to countries to our east,” meaning various Arab nations.
“That’s going to happen as part of the extension of the Abraham Accords, and possibly, obviously possible normalization with other countries in the region,” he said, calling the route through Cyprus the shortest, safest and most economical.
Christodoulides expressed interest in Cyprus taking a role in relationships expanded through the Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab nations, stating that Nicosia “has a strong interest to act as a gateway with like-minded partners.”
Netanyahu’s two-day diplomatic trip to Cyprus will include a separate meeting with the Greek prime minister and a tripartite summit with the three leaders, both of which are set to take place on Monday.
On Sunday evening, Netanyahu paid a visit to former Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to thank him “for his friendship and joint efforts over many years to strengthen ties between Israel and Cyprus,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The prime minister’s trip to Cyprus was set following the reconciliation between Israel and Turkey, as continuing tension between the two countries might have clouded relations between Jerusalem and Nicosia. Netanyahu intended to first express his commitment to an alliance with Cyprus and Greece, and only then to travel to Turkey.
Netanyahu’s flights to Cyprus and Turkey were canceled last month when he fell ill and had pacemaker surgery.