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Israel, Greece and Cyprus agree new gas deal

Israel, Greece and Cyprus will sign an agreement early next year to build a pipeline to carry natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean, to Europe.

As part of the deal, the three countries will set up a permanent secretariat in Nicosia to coordinate the trilateral energy supply deal. The 1900km pipeline, estimated to cost $7bn, will transport 10bn cubic meters of gas a year from the Eastern Mediterranean to Greece, where it will connect to the Poseidon pipeline to Italy. It is expected to take up to seven years to build and requires European Commission approval, which has already funded $35m as a Project of Common Interest.

The gas deal was announced at the fifth tripartite summit between the three countries in Beersheva. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who announced the deal with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, said: “Today, we reaffirmed our commitment for the East-Med pipeline, discussed important aspects of the project, and we’re going to sign formally, officially this agreement in a few months.”

He said that his friendship with the two leaders: “Grow stronger as our agreements grow longer and longer and detailed. And these bonds are not merely based on shared interests and geographic proximity; they are based on shared values in a very volatile region, very violent region”. The three countries also signed cooperation agreements to prevent cyber-attacks and exchange information concerning the regulation of smart cities and homes.

US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, attended the summit and said the pipeline will lead to “stability and prosperity of the Middle East and Europe”. Last week, the US hosted the inaugural meeting of a US-Greece strategic dialogue. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the eastern Mediterranean is “an important strategic border. The US is working to strengthen our relations with stable democracies and democratic allies there. Allies like Greece and Cyprus and Israel.”