Gas rig in the Mediterranean
Gas rig in the Mediterranean Israel news photo: Flash 90

At a meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised that Israel would continue to maintain good ties with Cyprus, regardless of its newly-rekindled relationship with Turkey.

Netanyahu met with the newly-elected Anastasiades on Sunday night, before he departed for China. At a press conference after the meeting, Anastasiades said that Israel and Cyprus had “embarked on a strategically important dialogue with a view at enhancing and further developing our bilateral ties, which are founded on common principles and values.”

In an interview with Channel Two, the Cyprus president said that he and Netanyahu had agreed, among other things, to cooperate on military projects to protect the gas fields common to both countries. Netanyahu promised, Anastasiades said, that Israel would maintain relations with Cyprus and work with the country to protect the gas fields, regardless of any deals it makes with Turkey, or any threats issued by Ankara.

Turkey and Cyprus have had a very rocky relationship. Turkey still occupies nearly 40% of Cyprus, as it has since it invaded the country in 1974, ostensibly to defend the rights of Turkish Cypriots. As a result, Turkey has laid claim to gas fields off the coast of Cyprus, demanding a percentage of the gas fields for Northern Cyprus, and threatening war against Cyprus if the country did not comply.