Israel will ask Cyprus to station Israel Air Force fighter jets at Andreas Papandreou air base in Paphos, according to a report on Sigmalive.com citing a military source to confirm information that appeared in media recently.
According to the information Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will raise the issue during a visit here on February 16th.
It is not clear at present if the Israelis will ask to have a permanent presence on the base or whether it will only be used during operations in the area.
Israeli English News Website, Jerusalem Post speculates that “it is possible that Israel is seeking to establish a base in Cyprus to be able to more effectively protect the growing number of gas fields it is discovering in the Mediterranean Sea.”
Last month Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak met with his Cypriot counterpart Demetris Eliades during which they signed two agreements aimed at strengthening defence cooperation between the two countries. The agreements were signed during Eliades’s visit to Tel Aviv. Reports claim that the possibility of establishing the base in Cyprus came up during their discussions.
“Israeli-Cypriot ties have improved significantly over the last three years. The Cypriot Air Force sent fire extinguishing planes to Israel to help put out the Carmel Forest fire last year, and in 2009 Cyprus stopped a cargo ship suspected of carrying Iranian arms.” Notes Jerusalem Post.
Sigma Live says that a statement by Ministry of Defence on the issue will be available shortly and notes that its military source argued that Israel’s interest is strong and developments are expected soon.
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