Israel seeks to deploy 20,000 commandos in Greek Cyprus
NICOSIA - Anatolia News Agency
An Israeli soldier patrols near a building occupied by Israeli settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron. AP photo
Israel wants its energy projects in Greek Cyprus to be run by Israelis and is seeking to deploy as many as 20,000 commandos for their protection, Anatolia news agency reported today.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Demetris Christofias, met on Feb. 16 to discuss the two countries' joint ventures. Details of the talks between the two leaders were kept secret.
Anatolia cited a source it said was close to the Greek Cypriot government who reportedly said Christophias specifically asked Netanyahu to convince Israeli businessmen to halt their investments in Turkish Cyprus during the meeting.
Netanyahu reportedly offered during the same meeting to undertake all the expenses required to construct a gas plant needed to extract the natural gas found in the Mediterranean Sea, the report said. In exchange, Netanyahu asked that all the 10,000 personnel that would work at the plant be brought in from Israel with their families, which would increase the number to nearly 30,000.
The high number of Israelis in Greek Cyprus would present a security issue, which Netanyahu suggested be solved by sending as many as 20,000 Israeli commandos to safeguard both the Israelis and the natural gas plant, the agency said.
Israel's offer sought to place the personnel and commandos in Limassol in Greek Cyprus.
Anatolia's source in Greek Cyprus reportedly said, "The Israelis were coming here to settle for good."