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      At Last Minute: Iranian Warships Won't Enter Mediterranean

      FM Lieberman warned against bellicose Iranian provocation yesterday, and today Egypt prevented the ships from entering the Suez Canal.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 2/17/2011, 12:21 PM / Last Update: 2/17/2011, 12:15 PM

      Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned against bellicose Iranian provocation yesterday, and today Egypt prevented the ships from entering the Suez Canal.

      Speaking yesterday at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned in ominous terms of Iran’s plans to fulfill its long-time goal of gaining a foothold in the Mediterranean Sea, which borders Israel.

      “Tonight,” he said, “two Iranian warships are to pass through the Suez Canal [separating the Sinai from the rest of Egypt and leading northward to the Mediterranean – ed.] on their way to Syria. This is something that has not happened for many years. It is a provocation that proves that Iran’s self-confidence and chutzpa are increasing every day. This follows [Iranian President] Ahmedinajad’s visit to southern Lebanon and his ongoing belligerent statements against Israel.”

      “The international community must understand,” Lieberman warned, “that Israel will not be able to ignore these provocations forever. Unfortunately, the international community has not showed willingness to deal with the Iranian provocations.”

      Clip of State Department Press Conference below

      This morning, it was abruptly reported that Egyptian forces were not allowing the ships to pass. However, other reports stated that Iran turned the ships back on its own.

      Security sources who wished to remain anonymous told Israel Radio that Israel is monitoring the situation carefully, although it cannot prevent Iran from sailing through international waters.

      The Egyptian company that runs the Suez Canal says that Egypt’s Defense and Foreign Ministries must approve the passage of warships two days in advance, and that no request for the Iranian ships has yet been received.

      Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel will continue to track the warships’ route.