Israel, Greece and Cyprus announce formation of regional disaster task force

In second trilateral committee meeting this year, Israel, Greece and Cyprus create regional disaster task force; Meeting with EU Energy Commissioner set to move forward with gas pipeline

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Prime Minister Netanyahu met with President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Jerusalem Thursday, in their second meeting of the trilateral committee established in January of this year.

The meeting was centered on moving forward with the creation of a gas pipeline from Israel to Cyprus, Greece and Italy, as well as the creation of a regional disaster task force. Several cooperative agreements were signed in the areas of innovation, academia and energy.

Addressing the press on their meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu began by thanking both Greece and Cyprus for their assistance during Israel’s fires, most caused by arson, at the end of November. Both Greece and Cyprus were first responders, sending firefighting aircraft to northern Israel. He stated “A few days ago we had the help of firefighters from Cyprus and from Greece. The Greek firefighters put out fires of Haifa. It should be understood that this was invaluable help from both of you, deeply appreciated and we respond. We reciprocate. When you had recent fires in Cyprus we sent our planes. This is a concrete example of how this cooperation actually saves lives. But it can go well beyond that.”

On agreements signed and the creation of a regional disaster task force, Netanyahu confirmed “We’ve just discussed the formation of a regional emergency force, multinational force, which 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. This is I think an important idea and I’m glad that we have an agreement to move it forward and I think it will take our cooperation in this area to higher levels.”

On cooperative agreements in the future, mainly that of the construction of gas pipeline from Israel’s gas fields to Greece, Cyprus and Italy, the leaders announced a meeting to be held with the European Union Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete. A meeting was held in Jerusalem between all three leaders with Israel’s Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz.

On future endeavors, Netanyahu stated “We are dealing also with matters of economy, with R&D, energy… 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 next meeting of the trilateral committee will be held in Saloniki in 2017.