Israel and Cyprus signed an accord Sunday to lay an underwater electricity cable between the Mediterranean nations, the first stage in a bid to transfer power between the Jewish state and mainland Europe.
According to a report on AFP, the cable, which the sides hope to complete by 2016, will stretch over the 287 kilometers between Israel and Cyprus, at a depth of around 2,000 meters.
The “Euro-Asia Interconnect,” with a capacity to transfer 2,000 MW, is “a historic event -- no more Israel as an economic island,” Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) CEO Yiftach Ron Tal was quoted by AFP as having said at the signing.
Additional underwater cables will connect Cyprus and mainland Europe via Greece, the report noted. This is another part of the agreement recently signed by Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau.
“Israel will be able to receive backup (electricity) from Cyprus and Europe, and in the future, we will be able to provide them with energy,” Landau was quoted by AFP as having said.
He added, “Israel is connecting with Europe, this is also marking Israel as an island of stability in the region.”
In January, Landau instructed the IEC to press ahead with the laying of the underwater cable and asked the company to prepare a memorandum of understanding for signing with the DEH Quantum Energy, a firm controlled by the Electric Company of Greece, the Cyprus Bank and another private firm.
DEH Quantum Energy chairman Athanasios Ktoridis said on Sunday all three participants would gain from the deal.
“Greece will increase its energy efficiency, and become a significant player in the European energy chess-board,” AFP quoted Ktoridis as having said. “Cyprus will cease being an island and supply a steady flow of energy in and out of the country, and Israel will become a major energy provider to the European continent.”
Cyprus and Israel have gotten closer as Israel has made an effort to tighten its ties with both Cyprus and Greece over the past few years, particularly in light of Turkey's growing hostility and movement towards radical Muslim elements in the region.
Last month, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit Cyprus. Cypriot Defense Minister Demetrius Eliades recently visited the Jewish State, and last November President Shimon Peres became the first Israeli president to visit Cyprus.