Greece, Israel, Egypt and Cyprus to hold joint air force drill

As relations between Mediterranean states increase, Greece announces air force drill; Several other European countries invited

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Israel, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt will hold a joint air force drill in order to “bolster stability in the eastern Mediterranean”.

Greece announced the drill Monday, confirming Israel attendance. Several other European countries have reportedly been invited.

The drill is another step in strong relations between Israel, Greece and Cyprus, with numerous diplomatic, trade and security agreements and cooperation underway since the formation of the Trilateral Committee in January of 2016. The committee is centered on “examining practical means of cooperating and implementing joint projects and synergies in the fields of energy, tourism, research and technology, environment, water management, combating terrorism, and migration”.

The committee “agreed to strengthen the cooperation between our three countries in order to promote a trilateral partnership in different fields of common interest and to work together towards promoting peace, stability, security and prosperity in the Mediterranean and the wider region….Our partnership is not exclusive in design or nature, and we are ready to welcome other like-minded actors to join our efforts to promote coordination and cooperation, as well as regional peace and stability. “

In December of 2016, Israel, Cyprus and Greece announced the formation of a regional disaster task force following the threat of fires in the region. Greece and Cyprus were first responders to fires in Israel after arson attacks by Israeli-Arab citizens in November of last year, Israel previously first responder to fires in Cyprus earlier in the year.

During an announcement ceremony for the emergency task force’s formation, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated the “regional emergency force/multinational force… will be not merely coordinated in times of crisis, but will actually have a joint command center, will involve not only our three countries but more countries that we’ll bring in, plan the construction, plan the buildup of these forces for firefighting, earthquakes, floods, search and rescue.”

In their third trilateral meeting held this summer in Greece, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Minister and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, the leaders announcing the plans to move forward with the “East-Med” pipeline. The pipeline is proposed to be over 2,000 kilometers long and bring gas from Israel’s gas fields to Cyprus, Greece and Italy.

Netanyahu stated on the pipeline “We have gas fields, we have joint interests, we know want to explore the development of these gas fields and the provision of the gas to European markets. This is something that occupies our time and our attention. I hope we can move forward on it.”

The committee is scheduled to meet for a fourth time towards the end of 2017.