Starting this week I will have a regular round up of the Hebrew newspapers in Israel. This will cover the major events happening in Israel and the Middle East.
On Thursday Israeli newspapers lead with what they unanimously refer to as the latest Iranian ‘provocation.’
The provocation in question, is the arrival of two Iranian warships in the Suez Canal, which Yedioth Ahronoth Newspaper says , are on their way to Syria.
While the Iranian plan to send two vessels through the waterway has been known for some time, it came to the wider attention of the Israeli media on Wednesday night, when Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, addressing the visiting delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, became the first Israeli official to mention the plan. Lieberman added that, to his regret, the international community is not showing a readiness to deal with what he called recurring Iranian provocations. He added that Israel could not forever ignore these provocations.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also commented, saying Wednesday that ‘Israel is closely following the movements of two Iranian ships and has updated friendly states on the issue. Israel will continue to follow the ships’ movements.’
There were, however, conflicting reports from Egypt on the matter. On Wednesday evening, the Suez Canal authority clearly stated that it has no knowledge of any Iranian ships coming their way, adding that no Iranian naval vessels have gone through the strategic strait since the 1979 Revolution.
The head of the canal's operations room, quoted in Haaretz Newspaper, told AFP, ‘Any warship needs approval from the Egyptian Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry. We have seen no such approval. Before they pass, I need to have such an approval in my hand.’
On Thursday morning, Israel Radio reported that the Suez Canal Authority said they have been informed that the plan has been cancelled. It was not immediately clear who was behind the cancellation, but – according to the Haaretz website – the Al-Arabiya television station reported that Egyptian authorities had blocked the ships from crossing.
Photo courtesy of The Huffington Post